Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research


profile image for Professor Phil Hubbard

Professor Phil Hubbard

Professor of Urban Studies

School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

CNE 206, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, Cornwallis North East, Canterbury CT2 7NF


I am Professor in Urban Studies in the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. See the rest of the Social Sciences team.

A geographer by training, I am particularly interested in the city as a site of social conflict. My work draws on theories of the city developed in urban sociology and urban geography, and also engages with debates in criminology and socio-legal studies given my particular interests in urban “disorder”.

I have published widely, with more than 70 papers in a diverse range of journals including Urban Studies, Environment and Planning, Law and Society, Sexualities, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Housing Studies, Critical Social Policy, Leisure Studies and Town Planning Review.

Though I have published on geographies of migrant settlement, student housing and urban planning, I am best known for my work on the sex life of the city. This has manifested in a series of funded projects on the management of street sex work, the licensing of commercial sex premises and, latterly, ESRC-funded research on the effects of lap dance premises on local residents and businesses.

I have published or co-edited 10 books, with 'Cities and Sexualities' (2011) pulling together a number of strands in my work concerning the ways that sexuality is regulated and governed through space.


I previously worked at the University of Gloucestershire (1992-1994), Coventry University (1994-1999) and Loughborough University (1999-2010), where I served as the Head of the Department of Geography.


My undergraduate studies were completed at the University of Birmingham (BA Hons in Geography, 1990), where I remained to pursue a postgraduate degree (PhD in Geography, 1993) on Attitudes to the Redevelopment of Birmingham City Centre. 

Find me:

On Academia 


back to top
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

    Hubbard, Philip (2011) Cities and Sexualities. Taylor and Francis, London, 256 pp. ISBN 9780415566476.


    From the hotspots of commercial sex through to the suburbia of twitching curtains, urban life and sexualities appear inseparable. Cities are the source of our most familiar images of sexual practice, and are the spaces where new understandings of sexuality take shape. In an era of global business and tourism, cities are also the hubs around which a global sex trade is organised and where virtual sex content is obsessively produced and consumed.Detailing the relationships between sexed bodies, sexual subjectivities and forms of intimacy, Cities and Sexualities explores the role of the city in shaping our sexual lives. At the same time, it describes how the actions of urban governors, city planners, the police and judiciary combine to produce cities in which some sexual proclivities and tastes are normalised and others excluded. In so doing, it maps out the diverse sexual landscapes of the city - from spaces of courtship, coupling and cohabitation through to sites of adult entertainment, prostitution, and pornography. Considering both the normative geographies of heterosexuality and monogamy, as well as urban geographies of radical/queer sex, this book provides a unique perspective on the relationship between sex and the city.Cities and Sexualities offers a wide overview of the state-of-the-art in geographies and sociologies of sexuality, as well as an empirically-grounded account of the forms of desire that animate the erotic city. It describes the diverse sexual landscapes that characterise both the contemporary Western city as well as cities in the global South. The book features a wide range of boxed case studies as well as suggestions for further reading at the end each chapter. It will appeal to undergraduate students studying Geography, Urban Studies, Gender Studies and Sociology.

    Hubbard, Philip (2006) The City. Key Ideas in Geography. Routledge,Taylor & Francis Ltd, London, 298 pp. ISBN 9780415331005.


    City provides an accessible yet critical introduction to one of the key concepts in human geography. Always at the heart of discussions in social theory, the definition and specification of 'the city' nonetheless remains illusive. In this volume, Phil Hubbard locates the concept of 'the city' within current traditions of social thought, providing a basis for understanding its varying usages and meanings through a critical discussion of the contribution of key authors and thinkers. Written in a lively and accessible style, the individual chapters of City offer a thematic overview of four dominant ways of approaching cities: as lived-in places as imagined spaces as networks of association as technologies of flow. Drawing on a diverse range of literatures and case studies, the book spells out the importance of a geographical perspective on the city, suggesting that it is only by bringing these different ways of mapping the city together that we can begin to make sense of cities.


    Hubbard, Philip and Wilkinson, Eleanor (2014) Welcoming the world? Hospitality, homonationalism and the London 2012 Olympics. Antipode. ISSN 1467-8330. (in press)


    In an era of intense ‘entrepreneurial’ city marketing, overt attempts to court LGBT consumers and investors have been made not solely through the promotion of lesbian and gay arts festivals, pride celebrations and 'specialised' cultural events, but also through 'mainstream' mega-events. This paper explores this with reference to London's 2012 Olympics, an event which welcomed LGBT spectators, volunteers and participants through a series of initiatives proclaiming the Games as distinctively 'gay-friendly'. Considering this in the light of queer critiques – particularly those concerning homonationalism - we suggest that this attempt to market London as sexually diverse relied on the effacement of certain sexual practices and spaces not easily accommodated within normative, Western models of sexual citizenship and equality. Here, a focus on the ways ‘abject’ sexualities were regulated in the run-up and hosting of the London Olympics is used to show that notions of welcome inevitably did not extend to encompass all sexual identities and practices. In conclusion, it is argued that the Olympics represented a moment when particular ideas of sexual cosmopolitanism were deployed to regulate, order and normalise the variegated sexual landscapes of the host city.

    Prior, Jason and Hubbard, Philip (2013) Out of sight, out of mind? Prostitution policy and the health, well-being and safety of home-based sex workers. Critical Social Policy, 33 (1). pp. 140-159.


    Policy discussions relating to the selling of sex have tended to fixate on two spaces of sex work: the street and the brothel. Such preoccupation has arguably eclipsed discussion of the working environment where most sex is sold, namely the private home. Redressing this omission, this paper discusses the public health and safety implications of policies that fail to regulate or assist the ‘hidden population’ of sex workers, focusing on the experiences of home-based workers in Sydney, NSW. Considering the inconsistent way that Home Occupation Sex Services Premises (HOSSPs) are regulated in this city, this paper discusses the implications of selling sex beyond the gaze of the state and law. It is concluded that working from home can allow sex workers to exercise considerable autonomy over their working practices, but that the safety and legality of such premises must be considered in the development of (non-punitive) prostitution policy.

    Hubbard, Philip (2013) Carnage! Coming to a town near you? Nightlife, uncivilised behaviour and the carnivalesque body. Leisure Studies, 32 (3). pp. 265-282. ISSN 02614367.


    Questions of embodiment are to be crucial in shaping the dynamics of social inclusion and exclusion. To explore the way that these dynamics shape the use of leisure spaces, this paper examines the mediation of Carnage UK events, organised mass student excursions around spaces of nightlife that have proved controversial in many British towns and cities. It is suggested in this paper that the discursive framing of Carnage UK events reflects specific social anxieties about disorderly bodies, invoking distinctions based on classed, sexed and gendered notions of respectability and desirability. Highlighting themes relating to carnivalesque and excessive bodies, it is concluded that conflicts over the use of leisure spaces need to be understood in relation to representations of specific social groups as figures of both desire and disgust. In making this argument, the paper alights on the student as a key figure in contemporary debates concerning nightlife, leisure and consumption. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

    Hubbard, Philip (2013) Kissing is not a universal right: Sexuality, law and the scales of citizenship. Geoforum, 49. pp. 224-232. ISSN 0016-7185.


    Equalities legislation has provided the basis for lesbian and gay-identified individuals to create new spaces of sexual inclusion in the UK. However, national rights to sexual orientation equality do not always translate into equal rights to sexual expression at the local scale. The paper demonstrates this by focusing on an instance where a display of homosexual intimacy - a same-sex kiss - was legitimately removed from a licensed premise despite the existence of legislation outlawing homophobic discrimination. This seeming contradiction demonstrates the limits of a perspective that regards citizenship as something negotiated solely at the scale of the nation-state, with those charged with maintaining public order at the local scale often appearing indifferent to nationally-secured rights. The paper accordingly warns against essentialist notions of the state, concluding that the interplay of a heterogeneous set of actors operating on different jurisdictional scales ultimately determines the limits of sexual citizenship. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

    Sage, Joanna and Smith, Darren and Hubbard, Philip (2013) New-build Studentification: A Panacea for Balanced Communities? Urban Studies, 50 (13). pp. 2623-2641. ISSN 00420980.


    Rising concern about the negative impacts of students on 'host communities' has triggered debates about the consequences of studentification in the UK. For some commentators, purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) appears the panacea for studentification, as it offers the potential to reintroduce balance to studentified communities by redistributing student populations in regulated ways. This paper explores this contention, drawing upon focus groups and household surveys conducted in the vicinity of a PBSA development in Brighton, UK. The paper concludes that the location of this development in a densely populated neighbourhood has engendered adverse student/community relations, conflict, feelings of dispossession and displacement of established local residents. It is asserted that future developments of PBSA should be mindful of these issues and their implications for questions of community cohesion, quality-of-life and belonging in established residential communities. These findings are discussed in relation to debates of age differentials, segregation and new-build gentrification. © 2013 Urban Studies Journal Limited.

    Crofts, Penny and Hubbard, Philip and Prior, Jason (2013) Policing, planning and sex: Governing bodies, spatially. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 46 (1). pp. 51-69. ISSN 0004-8658.


    Literatures on the regulation of conduct have tended to focus on the role of policing and theenforcement of criminal law. This paper instead emphasizes the importance of planning inshaping conduct, using the example of how planning shapes sexual conduct to demonstratethat planning can, in different times and places, exercise police-type powers. We illustrate thisby analysing the regulation of brothels in Sydney and Parramatta, NSW, Australia, providing acase study of spaces of sexuality that historically were constructed and regulated as criminal,but have since become lawful. This paper examines the ways in which these transitions in lawhave been differently expressed and accomplished through local planning enforcement. Inmaking such arguments, the paper emphasizes not only the potential for planners to act likepolice, but also the capacity of planning to supplant policing as a key technique of governmentality.

    Hubbard, Philip and Boydell, Spike and Crofts, Penny et al. (2013) Noxious neighbours? interrogating the impacts of sex premises in residential areas. Environment and Planning A, 45 (1). pp. 126-141. ISSN 0308-518X.


    Premises associated with commercial sex-including brothels, striptease clubs, sex cinemas, and sex shops-have increasingly been accepted as legitimate land uses, albeit ones whose location needs to be controlled because of assumed 'negative externalities'. However, the planning and licensing regulations excluding such premises from areas of residential land use are often predicated on assumptions of nuisance that have not been empirically substantiated. Accordingly, this paper reports on a survey of those living close to sex industry premises in New South Wales, Australia. The results suggest that although some residents have strong moral objections to sex premises, in general residents note few negative impacts on local amenity or quality of life, with distance from a premise being a poor predictor of residents' experiences of nuisance. These f ndings are considered in relation to the literatures on sexuality and space given regulation which ultimately appears to reproduce heteronormative moralities rather than respond to genuine environmental nuisances.

    Jayne, Mark and Hubbard, Philip and Bell, David (2013) Twin Cities: Territorial and Relational Geographies of 'Worldly' Manchester. Urban Studies, 50 (2). pp. 239-254. ISSN 0042-0980.


    This paper contributes to recent interest in city twinning by urban theorists. It begins with a review of writing from across the social sciences which describes the institutional context and content of twinning programmes, as well as work which theorises how care and hospitality are key elements of twinning practices. Ethnographic research is then presented from the City of Manchester (UK) in order to consider the ways in which twinning is constituted through circuits, networks and webs of co-operation and competition involved in the transfer of policy and knowledge which can be strategic, uneven and at times ambivalent. In doing so, it is argued that the conflicts, tensions and contradictions bound up with twinning have much to offer theoretical and empirical understanding of territorial and relational urban politics. The paper concludes with theoretical, methodological and policy relevant insights. © 2012 Urban Studies Journal Limited.

    Hubbard, Philip and Colosi, Rachela (2013) Sex, Crime and the City: Municipal Law and the Regulation of Sexual Entertainment. Social and Legal Studies, 22 (1). pp. 67-86. ISSN 0964-6639.


    Striptease venues have been the subject of considerable public debate following the emergence of highly visible 'lap dancing' clubs in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Accused of promoting forms of criminality and nuisance, the state and the law has nonetheless stopped short of banning such venues in England and Wales, with Section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 allowing for regulation through locally devolved systems of licensing. This article accordingly analyses the licensing of sexual entertainment venues (SEVs) enacted at the local level and demonstrates how the deployment of these local powers is capable of removing such businesses from select cities simply on the basis that they are 'out of place'. Given this is a form of spatial regulation against which there is little legal recourse, the article highlights the particular role played by municipal law in the regulation of sexuality, stressing the growing importance of environmental, planning and licensing law - as opposed to criminal law - as a means of regulating sexual conduct. © The Author(s) 2012.

    Hubbard, Philip and Colosi, Rachela (2013) Taking Back the Night? Gender and the Contestation of Sexual Entertainment in England and Wales. Urban Studies. ISSN 0042-0980.


    Despite important moves towards gender equality, the experience of the night-time city remains profoundly different for women and men. The visibility of self-styled ‘gentleman’s clubs’ where female dancers perform for a predominantly male clientele has been taken as prime evidence of this persistent inequity. Opposition to such clubs has hence been vocal, with the result that many local authorities in England and Wales have moved to ban clubs within their jurisdiction utilising the powers of the Policing and Crime Act, 2009. This paper explores the arguments that have persuaded policy-makers to refuse licences for such venues, particularly the idea that sexual entertainment causes specific harms to women. The paper does not question the veracity of such arguments, but instead explores why sexual entertainment venues have become a target of feminist campaigning, situating this opposition in the context of long-standing debates about the vulnerability of women in the night-time city.

    Prior, Jason and Crofts, Penny and Hubbard, Philip (2013) Planning, law, and sexuality: Hiding immorality in plain view. Geographical Research, 51 (4). pp. 354-363. ISSN 1745-5863.


    Emerging research in sexuality and space outlines the diverse forms of spatial governmentality used to discipline non-normative sexual behaviours, exploring how exclusion, concealment, and repression combines to ensure that 'immoral' sexualities are out of the sight of the 'moral majority'. In this paper, we explore this contention in relation to planning for sex service premises (brothels) in New South Wales, Australia. Though such sex service premises are now legal, our analysis nonetheless considers the way that these premises have been subject to forms of planning constraint that reflect planners' assumptions about the appropriate manifestation of sex premises within the urban landscape. By exposing the assumptions written into planning law that sex premises are legal but potentially disorderly, we demonstrate the evidential power of planning to reinforce dominant moral geographies through instruments which, at first glance, appear to be focused on objective questions of amenity and the 'best use of land'. This paper hence explores the ways in which planners have translated assumptions of disorder into categories of visibility and distance, meaning that brothels have become hidden in plain view so as not to disturb the integrity of residential 'family' spaces. © 2013 Institute of Australian Geographers.

    Boydell, Spike and Prior, Jason and Hubbard, Philip (2012) Nocturnal Rights to the City: Property, Propriety and Sex Premises in Inner Sydney. Urban Studies, 49 (8). pp. 1837-1852. ISSN 0042-0980.


    Questions of property rights are central to the organisation of urban space yet remain weakly theorised in the context of sexuality. Tracing battles over spaces of commercial sex in inner Sydney, this paper argues that particular claims to privacy and property underpin exclusionary actions restricting the boundaries of sexual citizenship. However, the paper also notes the potential for the emergence of ‘sexual commons’ where claims to an enhanced notion of sexual citizenship can be made. The paper concludes that property rights consist of overlapping and complex claims to space in which questions of sexuality and the sanctity of family life are often brought to the fore. In arguing this, the paper demonstrates that property rights constitute a key mechanism in the management and regulation of the (nocturnal) city.

    Sage, Joanna and Smith, Darren and Hubbard, Philip (2012) The rapidity of studentification and population change: There goes the (Student)hood. Population, Space and Place, 18 (5). pp. 597-613. ISSN 1544-8444.


    Research on the linkages between student migration and residential change in university towns and cities has mainly focused on neighbourhoods with deeply engrained and relatively mature expressions of studentification. Limited attention has been given to neighbourhoods that are in the process of being studentified or experiencing the preliminary, trend-setting flows of student in-migration. As a result, there is limited understanding of the pace of local demographic change and population restructuring in studentifying neighbourhoods. To these ends, this paper analyses the term-time addresses of students in Brighton, UK, between 2006/2007 and 2008/2009. A volatile residential distribution of student populations is revealed. We explore the factors underpinning these shifting student geographies by focusing on a specific neighbourhood undergoing profound population transformation during the period of study. This allows us to reveal how studentification unfolds 'in situ', shedding light on the rapidity of population and demographic restructuring that is mediated by the conversion of family-dwelling houses to student Housing in Multiple Occupation. Our findings are pertinent to recent planning policies to engineer balanced populations and housing markets by regulating the (over)production of student Housing in Multiple Occupation in university towns and cities. More broadly, the paper serves to demonstrate the value of adopting a longitudinal approach to gathering primary qualitative and quantitative data to track local changes to migration flows, demographic and population structures, and neighbourhood transformations.

    O’Neill, Maggie and Hubbard, Philip (2012) Asylum, Exclusion, and the Social Role of Arts and Culture. Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 12 (2).

    Sage, Joanna and Smith, Darren and Hubbard, Philip (2012) The Diverse Geographies of Studentification: Living Alongside People Not Like Us. Housing Studies, 27 (8). pp. 1057-1078. ISSN 02673037.


    Recent discussions of studentification have emphasised the development of exclusive purpose-built student accommodation in city centres, shifting the focus away from Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in established residential neighbourhoods. In this paper we explore the growth of student housing on a former social-rented (council) housing estate, and the social friction that it has created-arguing that the production of student HMO has remained prolific, and is pushing the studentification frontier into outer-city deprived communities. Drawing on empirical evidence from a former social-rented housing estate, we explore the recent emergence of a 'student area' where student occupation is having marked impacts on a relatively deprived local population. These findings have implications for urban policy making, given they highlight the negative outcomes of studentification in deprived communities, and reveal the challenge this poses for providing affordable housing, and engendering sustainable communities in university towns.

    Prior, Jason and Hubbard, Philip and Birch, Philip (2012) Sex Worker Victimization, Modes of Working, and Location in New South Wales, Australia: A Geography of Victimization. Journal of Sex Research, 50 (6). pp. 574-586. ISSN 0022-4499.


    This article examines the association among victimization, modes of sex working, and the locations used by sex workers through an analysis of ‘‘Ugly Mug’’ reports detailing 528 crimeacts in 333 reported incidents in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. These forms, volun-tarily lodged between 2000 and 2008 by members of NSW’s estimated 10,000 sex worker population, suggest that street-based work has a higher victimization rate than other modesof working, including escort work, work in commercial premises, and private work. Although this ostensibly supports the commonly held view that ‘‘outdoor’’ working is more dangerousthan ‘‘indoor’’ work, this analysis suggests that most instances of victimization actually occurin private spaces. Hence, it is argued that risks of victimization in sex work are in?uenced bya variety of environmental characteristics relating to concealment, control, and isolation,suggesting that not all off-street locations are equally safe. The article accordingly concludes with recommendations for prostitution policy.

    Jayne, Mark and Hubbard, Philip and Bell, David (2011) Worlding a city: twinning and urban theory. City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, 15 (1). pp. 25-41. ISSN 1360-4813.


    Twinning is a practice that creates formal and informal political, economic, social and cultural relationships between cities throughout the world. Despite its prevalence there has been relatively little academic attention paid to twinning. Indeed, where writers have considered city twinning they have tended to describe local institutional structures and programmes of events rather than theorising the importance of twinning as a global practice. Although producing a detailed picture of current twinning arrangements, existing research has thus glossed over the wider significance of twinning. In this paper, we argue that there is much to be gained from a more focused and sustained theoretical engagement with twinning. We do this by highlighting the twinning activities of the city of Manchester (UK), drawing out two key dimensions of twinning, namely, hospitality and relationality, which reveal twinning as a symptomatic urban process. In doing so we signpost the important contribution that research into twinning can make to broader debates within urban theory.

    Hubbard, Philip (2011) Gender, power & sex in the world city network. L’Espace Politique, 13 (1). ISSN 1958-5500.


    Conventionally, the literature on world cities describes them as the global hubs that organise ever-more complex flows of information, money and people. Within this literature, it is advanced producer services that are considered to be of crucial importance in articulating this space of flows, often to the neglect of other cultural and social practices that give world cities their distinctive character. This paper redresses this balance by focusing on sex as one of the drivers of the global economy, arguing that world cities are not merely major markets for sexual consumption, pornography, and prostitution but are the hubs of a global network of sexual commerce around which images, bodies and desires circulate voraciously. As such, this paper brings the body into discussions of globalization not merely as a vector of disease transmission, an agent of cultural diffusion or a repository of tacit business knowledge, but as a sexualised and desiring body whose intimate geographies are integral to the reproduction of global economic systems which thrive on the commodification of desire.

    Coulmont, Baptiste and Hubbard, Philip (2010) Consuming Sex: Socio-legal Shifts in the Space and Place of Sex Shops. Journal of Law and Society, 37 (1). pp. 189-209. ISSN 0263-323X.


    Materials defined as pornographic have always been subject to regulation because of the potential of such items to ‘corrupt and deprave’. Yet the state and law has rarely sought to ban such materials, attempting instead to restrict their accessibility. The outcomes of such interventions have, however, rarely been predictable, an issue we explore with reference to the changing regulation of sex shops in Britain and France since the 1970s. Noting ambiguities in the legal definitions of spaces of sex retailing, this paper traces how diverse forms of control have combined to restrict the location of sex shops, simultaneously shaping their design, management, and marketing. Describing the emergence of gentrified and ‘designer’ stores, this paper demonstrates that regulation has been complicit in a process of neo-liberalization that has favoured more corporate sex shops – without this having ever been an explicit aim of those who have argued for the regulation of sex retailing.

    Holloway, Sarah L. and Hubbard, Philip and Jöns, Heike et al. (2010) Geographies of education and the significance of children, youth and families. Progress in Human Geography, 34 (5). pp. 583-600. ISSN 0309-1325.


    This paper engages with Hanson Thiem's (2009) critique of geographies of education. Accepting the premise that education warrants fuller attention by geographers, the paper nonetheless argues that engaging with research on children, youth and families reshapes understanding of what has been, and might be, achieved. Foregrounding young people as the subjects rather than objects of education demands that attention be paid to their current and future life-worlds, in both inward and outward looking geographies of education. It also requires a broadening of our spatial lens, in terms of what 'count' as educational spaces, and the places where we study these.

    O'Neill, Maggie and Hubbard, Philip (2010) Walking, sensing, belonging: Ethno-mimesis as performative praxis. Visual Studies, 25 (1). pp. 46-58. ISSN 1472586X.


    This article outlines a research project that used participatory action research (PAR) and arts practice (ethno-mimesis) to explore the senses of belonging negotiated by asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants in the English East Midlands. At the core of this project was a walking event in which refugees and new arrivals guided long-term residents through the city, tracing an imaginary and real journey that linked the here and now with the then and there. Reflecting on the ways that walking evokes and invokes, this article suggests that while walking should not be privileged as a way of knowing, it has certain sensate, embodied, relational and collective attributes which rendered it particularly useful as a means of exploring the importance of being-in-place among a group whose lives are often depicted as markedly transnational. © 2010 International Visual Sociology Association.

    Hubbard, Philip (2009) Geographies of studentification and purpose-built student accommodation: leading separate lives? Environment and Planning A, 41 (8). pp. 1903-1923. ISSN 0308-518X.


    Off-campus student accommodation in the form of shared rental housing has become increasingly significant in the UK, with studies suggesting that this is having important consequences for housing markets in university towns. However, the continuing expansion of higher education, the increased involvement of private investment capital, and changing student demands are seen to be encouraging a move away from houses in multiple occupation towards purpose-built accommodation. Drawing on housing surveys and interviews conducted with current students in Loughborough (in the English East Midlands), I conclude that such purpose-built developments are implicated in processes of urban gentrification, having potentially major consequences for studentification and community cohesion in British cities.

    Hubbard, Philip (2009) Opposing striptopia: The embattled spaces of adult entertainment. Sexualities, 12 (6). pp. 721-745. ISSN 13634607.


    While adult entertainment venues offering striptease have proliferated in the UK, recent reforms have subjected them to more onerous and restrictive forms of licensing control. This article examines the justification for this re-regulation, noting that debates around the desirability of such venues have become increasingly framed in terms of gendered exploitation rather than sexual liberation and 'play'. Noting that such debates often conflate questions of public morality, criminality, nuisance and exploitation in unhelpful ways, this article argues that the reform of the licensing law was underpinned by possibly flawed assumptions about the gendered and sexed nature of adult entertainment. The article accordingly emphasizes the ability of the naked body to excite both desire and disgust, and challenges the assumption that commercial sex is always exploitative. © The Author(s), 2009.

    Hubbard, Philip and Matthews, Roger A. and Scoular, Jane (2009) Legal Geographies - Controlling sexually oriented businesses: Law, Licensing, and the geographies of a controversial land use. Urban Geography, 30 (2). pp. 185-205. ISSN 02723638.


    In this article, we explore both a neglected geography (the location of sexually oriented business) and a neglected instrument of sociospatial control (premises licensing). Arguing the former is increasingly shaped by the latter, we suggest that licensing provides a flexible means by which the state is able to reconcile the growing demand for "adult entertainment" with concerns about community standards, urban aesthetics, public safety, and property prices. We demonstrate this through an examination of the role of UK licensing legislation in controlling the location and visibility of such controversial businesses in London's West End. It is demonstrated that, in this case, licensing has encouraged the "upscaling" of sex-related businesses while reducing their overall number and visibility. We conclude that licensing, as a means of controlling contentious urban land uses, constitutes a "field of governance" whose legal geographies remain to be adequately theorized and explored. Copyright © 2009 by Bellwether Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Hubbard, Philip and Matthews, Roger A. and Scoular, Jane (2008) Regulating sex work in the EU: prostitute women and the new spaces of exclusion. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 15 (2). pp. 137-152. ISSN 0966-369X.


    Contemporary prostitution policy within the European Union has coalesced around the view that female prostitution is rarely voluntary, and often a consequence of sex trafficking. Responding, different nation-states have, however, adopted antithetical legal positions based on prohibition (Sweden), abolition (UK) or legalisation (Netherlands). Despite the apparently sharp differences between these positions, in this article we argue that there is now a shared preoccupation with repressing spaces of street prostitution. Noting the forms of exploitation that nonetheless adhere to many spaces of off-street work, we conclude that the state and law may intervene in sex work markets with the intention of tackling gendered injustice, but are perpetuating geographies of exception and abandonment. La política contemporánea de la prostitución en la Unión Europea se han centrado en la opinión de que la prostitución femenina es casi nunca voluntaria, y muchas veces es la consecuencia del tráfico sexual. En respuesta, las diferentes naciones han, sin embargo, adoptado posiciones legales antitéticas basado en la prohibición (Sueca), la abolición (el Reino Unido), o la legalización (los Países Bajos). A pesar de las aparentes diferencias entres estas posiciones, en este artículo sostenemos que actualmente hay una preocupación común con los espacios represivos de la prostitución callejera. Reconociendo las formas de explotación que, no obstante, conforman a muchos espacios del trabajo fuera de la calle, concluimos que el estado y la ley pueden intervenir en el trabajo sexual con el propósito de enfrentar la injusticia sexual, pero que se perpetúan las geografías de la excepción y el abandono.

    Hubbard, Philip and Whowell, Mary (2008) Revisiting the red light district: Still neglected, immoral and marginal? Geoforum, 39 (5). pp. 1743-1755. ISSN 00167185.


    Twenty years ago, Ashworth et al. (1988) offered a distinctive and innovative interpretation of a neglected aspect of the urban scene: the red light district. Focusing on the location of female prostitution in a series of Western European cities, their paper suggested that the geographies of sex work are revealing of some of the 'less obvious' social and political processes that shape urban space. Here, we revisit Ashworth et al's paper in the light of subsequent developments in the organisation of commercial sex as well as the study of sexuality and space. Noting important continuities as well as major shifts in the location of sex work, with a significant shift to off-street forms of sex working having occurred, this paper argues that some of the ideas in Ashworth et al's paper remain highly pertinent, but others appear in need of updating. In particular, we stress the importance of focusing on men as both clients and workers within the sex industry, and flag up a number of connections that might be made with the emerging literatures on the geographies of sex itself. We hence conclude by considering Ashworth et al's paper as an important early intervention in debates surrounding the relations of sexuality and space, albeit one in which questions of gender, embodiment, and sexual desire remained largely unexplored.

    O'Neill, Maggie and Campbell, Rosie and Hubbard, Philip et al. (2008) Living with the Other: Street sex work, contingent communities and degrees of tolerance. Crime Media Culture, 4 (1). pp. 73-93. ISSN 1741-6590.


    There is substantial literature on how fears of Other populations are prompting the increased surveillance and regulation of public spaces at the heart of Western cities. Yet, in contrast to the consumer-oriented spaces of the city centre, there has been relatively little attention devoted to the quality of the street spaces in residential neighbourhoods beyond the central city. In this article, we explore how media representations of sex workers as an abject and criminalized Other inform the reactions of residents to street sex work in such communities. Drawing on our work in a number of British cities we highlight the different degrees of tolerance which residents express towards street sex work. In light of the Home Office strategy document, A Coordinated Prostitution Strategy, this article concludes by advocating participatory action research and community conferencing as a means of resolving conflicts and assuaging fears of difference.

    Hubbard, Philip (2008) Here, There, Everywhere: The Ubiquitous Geographies of Heteronormativity. Geography Compass, 2 (3). pp. 640-658. ISSN 1749-8198.


    From its first tentative forays into questions of gay and lesbian residence, the discipline of geography has made increasingly important contributions to literatures on sexual identities, practices and politics. In this paper, I seek to highlight the breadth and depth of recent work on sexuality and space by exploring the contributions made by geographers to the theorisation of heteronormativity. Specifically, this paper explores how heterosexual norms are constructed ansd reproduced spatially, noting the increasing corpus of work which moves beyond examination of heterosexuality's Other (i.e. homosexuality) to consider the multiple desires and bodies that can be accommodated within the category ‘heterosexual’. Moving from urban to rural contexts, this paper hence reviews literatures detailing how particular heterosexualities are rendered normal and concludes that the literature is usefully shifting from a focus on identity and community to questions of practice and performance.

    Hubbard, Philip and Matthews, Roger A. and Scoular, Jane et al. (2008) Away from prying eyes? The urban geographies of 'adult entertainment'. Progress in Human Geography, 32 (3). pp. 363-381. ISSN 0309-1325.


    Most towns and cities in the UK and USA possess a number of venues offering sexually orientated entertainment in the form of exotic dance, striptease or lap dancing. Traditionally subject to moral and legal censure, the majority of these sex-related businesses have tended to be situated in marginal urban spaces. As such, their increasing visibility in more mainstream spaces of urban nightlife raises important questions about the sexual and gender geographies that characterize the contemporary city. In this paper we accordingly locate the phenomena of adult entertainment at the convergence of geographic debates concerning the evening economy, urban gentrification and the gendered consumption of urban space. We conclude that these sites are worthy of investigation not only in and of themselves, but also because their shifting location reveals much about the forms of heterosexuality and homosociality normalized in the contemporary city.

    Hubbard, Philip (2008) Regulating the social impacts of studentification: A Loughborough case study. Environment and Planning A, 40 (2). pp. 323-341. ISSN 0308-518X.


    Now a recognised phenomenon in many British cities, studentification is the process by which specific neighbourhoods become dominated by student residential occupation. Outlining the causes and consequences of this process, this paper suggests that studentification raises important questions about community cohesiveness and that intervention may be required by local authorities if social and cultural conflicts are to be avoided. Detailing the social impacts of studentification in Loughborough, a market town in the English East Midlands, the paper accordingly considers recent housing policies designed to prevent the formation of exclusive 'student ghettos. The paper concludes by suggesting that the type of 'threshold analysis' utilised in Loughborough may well spread students more thinly across a city, but that the relationship between students and the wider community requires other forms of regulation if town-university tensions are to be effectively managed. Throughout, comparison is made between the Loughborough and other UK university towns where the challenges and opportunities associated with studentification have been differently addressed.

Edited Books

    Hubbard, Philip and Kitchin, Rob (2011) Key Thinkers on Space and Place. Sage ISBN 9781849201025.


    In this new edition of Key Thinkers on Space and Place, editors Phil Hubbard and Rob Kitchin provide us with a fully revised and updated text that highlights the work of over 65 key thinkers on space and place. Unique in its concept, the book is a comprehensive guide to the life and work of some of the key thinkers particularly influential in the current 'spatial turn' in the social sciences. Providing a synoptic overview of different ideas about the role of space and place in contemporary social, cultural, political and economic life, each portrait comprises: • biographical information and theoretical context • an explication of their contribution to spatial thinking • an overview of key advances and controversies • guidance to further reading With 14 additional chapters including entries on Saskia Sassen, Tim Ingold, Cindi Katz and John Urry, the book covers ideas ranging from humanism, Marxism, feminism and post-structuralism to queer-theory, post-colonialism, globalization and deconstruction presenting a thorough look at diverse ways in which space and place has been theorized. An essential text for geographers, this now classic reference text is for all those interested in theories of space and place, whether in geography, sociology, cultural studies, urban studies, planning, anthropology, or women's studies.

    Hubbard, Philip and Kitchin, Rob and Valentine, Gill (2008) Key Texts in Human Geography. SAGE Publications Ltd, London, 256 pp. ISBN 9781412922616.


    A unique resource for students, Key Texts in Human Geography provides concise but rigorous overviews of the key texts that have formed post-war human geography. The text has been designed as a student-friendly guide that will: " explain the text in relation to the geographical debates at the time of writing " discuss the text's main arguments and sources of evidence " review the initial reception, subsequent evaluation, and continued influence of each key texts contribution to how geographers understand space and place Written in a clear and accessible way, by acknowledged scholars of the texts, an essential resources for undergraduates, Key Texts in Human Geography will be widely used and highly cited in courses on methods and approaches in geography

    Halliday, Tim and Hubbard, Philip and Short, John Rennie (2008) The Sage Companion to the City. SAGE Publications Ltd, London, 408 pp. ISBN 9781412902076.


    'This book pulls together an exceptional range of literature in addressing the complexity of contemporary patterns and processes of urbanization. It offers a rich array of concepts and theories and is studded with fascinating examples that illustrate the changing nature of cities and urban life' - Paul Knox, University Distinguished Professer, Virginia Tech University, USA 'The SAGE Companion to the City is a tour-de-force of contemporary urban studies. At once a stocktake, showcase and springboard for scholarly approaches to cities and city life, the editors have assembled a cohesive and convincing set of lucid, insightful and critical essays of great quality. Eschewing grand theory and deadening encyclopediasm, the contributors refresh both longstanding concerns and explore new themes in ways both brilliantly accessible to newcomers and satisfying to the cognoscenti' - Robert Freestone, University of New South Wales, Australia Organized in four sections The SAGE Companion to the City provides a systematic A-Z to understanding the city that explains the interrelations between society, culture and economy. Each chapter is illustrated with key extracts from the literature: " Part One: Histories: explains: power; religion; science and technology; modernity; the landscape of the city. " Part Two: Economies and Inequalities: explains: work and leisure; globalisation; innovation and the economy; and the role of the state "Part Three: Communities: explains: migration and settlement; segregation and division; civility; house and home; housing and homelessness. " Part Four: Order and Disorder: explains: politics and policy; planning and conflict; law and order; surveillance and terror. An accessible guide to all areas of urban studies; the text offers both a contemporary cutting edge reflection and measured historical and geographical reflection on urban studies. It will be essential reading for students of any discipline interested in the city as an object of study.

Total publications in KAR: 35 [See all in KAR]
back to top

Research interests

I am an urban scholar with long-standing interests in the geographies of the city, particularly the city's capacity to segregate, contain and exclude social difference and alterity at the same time that it proclaims cosmopolitanism and conviviality.

One dimension of my work has been an exploration of the sex life of cities. Empirically, this has manifested in a series of studies of the location and visibility of prostitution, sex work and adult entertainment, both in the UK and internationally (such as Amsterdam, Paris, Sydney, Stockholm).

Theoretically, this project has been informed by an interest in deconstructing the privileges of heteronormativity and exposing the way that the city normalises particular heterosexual identities and practices. This has involved an engagement with both queer studies and legal theory as I have brought planning and urban theory into dialogue with ideas about governmentality, performativity and the 'conduct of conduct'. Much of this work was summarised in my book 'Cities and Sexualities' (Routledge, 2011).

Beyond this I have wide-ranging interests in the social life of cities, with a particular interest in issues of connection and disconnection. Recent and ongoing projects include studies of student accommodation, studentification and town/gown conflicts; mapping of the lives of asylum seekers and migrants as they orient themselves in new and often strange urban environments; studies of participation and exclusion in urban nightlife; and the reconfiguration of planned cities through everyday practice.

Although I have used both quantitative and qualitative methods in my work, I have a strong interest in participatory arts, visual methods and psychogeographical techniques which evoke the embodied dimensions of urban life.


I have supervised nine PhD students to completion. I am currently supervising research students working in the areas of urban studies, cultural change and/or sexuality and welcome proposals in areas relating to these. If you are interested in studying at the University of Kent, please email me to discuss further.


back to top


I teach the following modules:

  • SA310 Methods in Social Science
  • SO306 Introduction to Sociology
  • SO647 Research Methods in Sociology
  • SO685 Doing Visual Sociology
  • SO700 Contested Cities
  • SO882 Youth Crime and Place.
back to top


Telephone: +44(0)1227 823072 Fax: +44(0)1227 827005 or email us

SSPSSR, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cornwallis North East, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF

Last Updated: 22/01/2014