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Dr John Roberts

Dr John Roberts
Professor - Sociology and Communications

Marie Jahoda 155

Research area(s)

  • Public sphere, urban space, and free speech
  • Digital media
  • Global political economy
  • Social theory

Research Interests

My research interests can be divided into the following areas: the relationship between the public parks, urban space, and free speech; critical social theory along with its application to empirical research; everyday experiences of social and political activism; the relationship between digital technology and labour and work.

I am currently involved in various projects:

Digital Labour

I have an ongoing research interest in how technology is changing the world of labour and work. For example, I have just completed a new monograph on social class and digital before and during the pandemic.

Free Speech Struggles at Hyde Park from 1945 up until 2017

Through primary historical data, this project explores the relationship and struggles in and around free speech between the state, political and social activists, and regulars and audience members at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park in London, 1945 to 2017. Among the the issues explored will be the sociology of free speech, the changing spatial governance of public space, Hyde Park and free speech from Keynesian welfare regulation to neoliberal regulation, socio-legal discourse on free speech at Hyde Park, policing free speech during this period, the performance of free speech, and the architectural and spatial design of Speakers' Corner. This project is funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship.

Everyday Experiences of Political and Social Activism

Another interest of mine concerns the changing nature of social and political activism. For example, with a colleague, Dr Joseph Ibrahim, I will be carrying out a qualitative study on people's everyday experiences of being active in the 'movement party', Momentum. I am currently also co-convenor of the Political Studies Association specialist group/research network on social and political movements.

Suburban Parks, Heritage, and Voluntary Activity

This project explores the management of and voluntary activity around heritage projects in suburban public parks. By comparing and contrasting a large and well-resourced suburban park with two smaller suburban parks, the project examines how recent and public concerns about cuts to park budgets have affected these respective suburban parks especially in terms of their volunteering strategies on heritage projects. The project will aim to see whether suburban parks face distinctive challenges in these areas which are different to urban parks, and will do so by interviewing and observing both managers of these parks and organised suburban park volunteers.