Portrait of Professor Chris Pickvance

Professor Chris Pickvance

Emeritus Professor of Urban Studies


Professor Pickvance’s work has been on urban, regional and environmental topics. He has contributed to theoretical debates and to the analysis of central and local government policy and of household responses to dissatisfaction, including protest and individual behaviours. He has conducted sociological research in both western and eastern Europe and comparative analysis has been a particular interest.

Research interests

Professor Pickvance has contributed to theoretical debates about state policy, Eastern European ‘transition’, and responses to urban inequalities. His research has been in the same areas and has covered topics ranging from the macro (state structure, and urban and regional policies), to the meso (the application of environmental regulations, sustainable housing policy and provision for homelessness) to the micro (urban and environmental protest, young people's housing choices, household inaction, individual and collective action in response to environmental and housing deprivations. Linking all these topics is a concern with the state, power, and inequalities of outcome and how people respond to them. 

His belief in keeping a close link between theory and research has led him to write a number of methodological papers, e.g., on comparative analysis and causality, where it seemed to him that simplistic ideas of causality were excluding complex possibilities such as plural causation. 

Since retiring, Professor Pickvance has developed a new area of research in furniture history which has a strong sociological dimension due to the role of furniture in domestic lifestyles. His particular interest is in establishing some firmer dates for pre-1600 furniture and some criteria for distinguishing between English, French, Flemish and German products. This involves liaison with economic and social historians, specialists in art history, architecture, dendrochronology, woodwork and metalwork. The international trade in furniture and the flows of craftsmen and design and construction ideas mean that cross-national comparison is essential in this field. 

Most recent research grants

  • Dendrochronological analysis of medieval chests (Regional Furniture Society, Furniture History Society, Marc Fitch Fund, Kent Archaeological Society) 
  • Provision for homelessness in Kent: analysis of a non-system (with Andy Ashenhurst) (Porchlight) 
  • A comparative evaluation of incentives, obstacles and attitudes to sustainable housing in Kent and Nord/Pas de Calais (Moat Housing Association) 
  • Local environmental regulation in Hungary (with K. Pickvance) (ESRC). 
  • Environmental and housing movements in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (with N. Manning and K. Pickvance) (ESRC)  


Professor Pickvance's main undergraduate teaching was on The City (which covers urban planning, urban policy, and urban problems in the UK) and Urban Sociology (a comparative module which includes former state socialist cities). At postgraduate level he contributed to modules in the MA in Methods of Social Research and the MA in Environmental Social Science.


Professor Pickvance has supervised a wide range of PhD theses. Some recent theses were on a Moscow neighbourhood protest (Aleh Ivanou), an urban village in Wuhan (Huang he), a household- based approach to house-building in Algeria (Themila Boussoualem) and Governing diversity in Belgium, Netherlands and the UK: a three city comparison (Maria Schiller). 

Now retired, he is no longer taking on new students 





A full list of Professor Pickvance's publications can be found on Researchgate.net.

Last updated