Summer Term 2019 |  LSE Cities Research Seminars

LSE Cities holds research seminars for LSE and non-LSE researchers and academics to present their work on cities and the ways in which people and cities interact in a rapidly urbanising world, focusing on how the physical form and design of cities impacts on society, culture and the environment.

Seminars are held from 12.00-13.30 in the LSE Cities seminar room 8.01H on the 8th Floor of Fawcett House, Clement's Inn, London WC2A 2AZ

Seminars and free and open to all. If you would like to attend any of the seminars please RSVP to

Thursday 13 June | 12.00pm – 1.30pm
Measuring Community in an Urban Age: a review and synthesis of socio-material network analyses
Dr Alasdair Jones (Department of Methodology, LSE)

Building on a longstanding tradition (e.g. Oldenburg 1989) recent scholarship has emphasised the importance of social infrastructure to community development (Klinenberg 2018). Despite this work, very few studies seek to empirically analyse both the social and spatio-material dimensions of urban community. As (Habinek, Martin, & Zablocki 2015: 28) put it, “almost nothing is known about the joint effects of network structure and geographic position.”

In this presentation I will discuss the findings of the LSE Cities seed-funded ‘Measuring Community in an Urban Age’ (MCiUA) project which I undertook with Meg Bartholomew.   MCiUA involved a comprehensive and quasi-systematic review of socio-material network approaches that have been developed and deployed to understand urban community (and related phenomena) as constituted by both connections between people and connections between people and their local environment.  This meta-analysis has identified clusters of studies concerned with socio-material networks, and a range of methodological approaches among these. Notably, a lack of cross-referencing between different approaches is evident despite common foundations in key texts and theories.

In this talk I will set out the emerging schools of socio-material network research identified in our study and use this as a basis for thinking about how we might synthesise methodological techniques and principles for exploring the socio-material determinants of communities empirically. A brief overview of indicative findings from the studies reviewed and proposed collective directions for future research will also be included. Finally, by way of empirics I will also present the findings of our own co-authorship network analysis of the studies reviewed for MCiUA with a view to identifying promising and potential links in the literature.

Alasdair Jones is Assistant Professor in Qualitative Research Methodology and the Director of the MSc Social Research Methods at the LSE’s Department of Methodology. He is also an Associate at LSE Cities, a Research Associate at the Public Policy Institute (University of Auckland) and an NIHR SSCR Fellow.

This research project received seed funding from LSE Cities. For additional information see the LSE Cities research page.