The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Robert Hollands

Professor of Sociology



Robert Hollands is a Professor of Sociology in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology and has been lecturing at Newcastle since 1992. Specialising in Urban Sociology, Youth Studies, and the Sociology of Arts/ Culture, he is author/ co-author of 5 books (including with Paul Chatterton, Urban Nightscapes, Routledge, 2003) and over 60 published articles/ reports on subjects like the egalitarian arts, fringe festivals, smart cities, youth cultures, nightlife, and alternative urban cultures. He is a former graduate of Queen's University (Canada), and the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), University of Birmingham, where he did a PhD via a Commonwealth Scholarship. He has been a research consultant to the Prague Fringe festival for the past 17 years.

Recently Robert has been the recipient of a prestigious Major Research Fellowship grant from the Leverhulme Trust entitled 'Urban Cultural Movements and the Struggle for Alternative Creative Spaces' (beginning September 2015 for two years). For an early description of the project see:   

Roles and Responsibilities

Geography, Politics and Sociology Research Director and School Impact Champion  


P.hD Sociology and Cultural Studies, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham, U.K. (awarded December 1988). Dissertation Title: Working Class Transitions and the Youth Training Scheme (published by Macmillan as The Long Transition: Class, Culture and Youth Training, 1990).

M.A. Sociology of Leisure and Culture, Department of Physical and Health Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada (awarded October 1982).

B.A. B.P.H.E. (Social Psychology with distinction and Physical & Health Education), Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada (dual degree awarded April 1979).

Other Positions

Visiting Professor, Department of Sociology, Auckland University, New Zealand (autumn term), 2012

Visiting Professor, Institute of Political Economy, Carleton University,  Ottawa, Canada  2002

Visiting Professor, Institute of Political Economy/ Department of Sociology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada 1996

Senior Lecturer, Sociology/ Social Policy, Sunderland Polytechnic, Sunderland, UK 1988-92

Research Officer, Trade Union Information Studies Unit (TUISU), Newcastle Upon Tyne, 1987


Research Interests

Urban Sociology – including  cultural/ creative cities,  alternative urban cultures, nightlife, urban ethnography, cultural tourism; smart cities: Youth Studies – including  youth cultures, youth and politics; educational/ labour market transitions; Sociology of Art and Culture – including cultural/ creative work, egalitarian arts, cultural politics

Current Work

In terms of his work on the Sociology of art and culture, Robert has been the recipient of a prestigious Major Research Fellowship grant from the Leverhulme Trust entitled 'Urban Cultural Movements and the Struggle for Alternative Creative Spaces' (September 2015-17). Publications related to this topic include a recent article in City entitled ' Alternative creative spaces and neo-liberal urban transformations: Lessons and dilemmas from three European case studies' (2019), and a co-authored book chapter entitled 'Urban Cultural Movements and the Night: Struggling for the Right to the (Party) City in Geneva' in J. Hannigan and G. Richards (eds) The SAGE Handbook of New Urban Studies. London: Sage, 2017. Additionally, he has re-published an article on the future of alternative cultural spaces in Geneva which can be accessed online at:  'Creative Dark Matter Rising? Struggling Over the Future of Alternative Cultural Spaces in the City of Geneva', Discover Society, 58, July 3rd, 2018 which can be accessed at: He is currently working on a monograph about alternative creative spaces and their potential to form into urban cultural movements.

He has previously produced a range of work on the egalitarian arts, specifically concerned with an ESRC funded research project on the Amber Collective (jointly with John Vail). This includes published articles on art as a social movement (Poetics),  alternative cultural work (Journal of Cultural Economy), rules for cultural radicals (Antipode), democratic creativity (Cultural Sociology), and arts and place imprinting (Local Economy) - see publications list for details. 

Additionally, with regard to his work with the Prague Fringe, his 2016 audience survey and impact report was published in October 2016. This and previous surveys conducted in 2007 and 2011, as well as 14 audience profile for the Prague Fringe Festival can be found at and he has previously published articles on the fringe as an alternative form of cultural tourism in Journal of Cultural Economy (3 (3), 2010) and on cultural struggles in Prague during the 'days of unrest' in 2008 (City, 13 (1) 2009).  

His previous work on youth and nightlife came out of an ESRC project in 2002 (with Paul Chatterton) and includes amongst many other publications, 2 well known books  focusing around youth cultures and identities in the night-time economy (Urban Nightscapes, Routledge, 2003 and Changing Our Toon, 2001), following on from his previous renouned work Friday Night, Saturday Night (1995) (see for the project website). Citations of this work on nightlife as a whole are over 2000 on Google Scholar. More recently, aspects of this work have been revisited and have been published in a variety of book chapters in Shane Blackman and Michelle Kempson (eds) The Subcultural Imagination: Theory, Research and Reflexivity in Contemporary Youth Cultures (London: Routledge, 2016); Thomas Thurnell-Read (ed) Drinking Dilemmas: Space, Culture and Identity (London: Routledge, 2016); and A. Furlong (ed), Handbook of Youth and Young Adults: New Perspectives and Agendas (2nd edition) London: Routledge, 2017. An article on the Newcastle University student occupation (with Rowan Rheingans) was also published in Journal of Youth Studies in 2013.

Finally, he continues to publish critiques of the smart city. His initial article on this topic 'Will the real smart city please stand up' published in City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, 12 (3) 2008, has become a 'mini classic', having been viewed over 17,000 times, and generating over 2000 citations on Google Scholar, while a follow-up article called 'Interventions Into the Corporate Smart City' is now out in a special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society.(2015) and has already been cited over 350 times in other academic articles.  

Future Research

Future work includes a number of articles emanating out of the Leverhulme research, including a monograph on alternative creative spaces and urban cultural movemnts.  

Postgraduate Supervision

Currently supervise/ co-supervise 5 PhD students:

Alicia Souter, The Stuff of Night Mayors: Governance and the Evening Night Time Economy Funded ESRC- DTC (2019-2022); Kerry Lowes, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Studentship Social Value in the Arts: The Case of the Amber Collective (5 years, PT); Angus McVittie ‘Feeling Your Future?’: Class Habitus and Emotional Capital in Valuing Undergraduate Degrees and Apprenticeships’, Funded 1 3 ESRC/ DTC (2017-2022).; Graham Gaunt Expectations and aspirations: the transition to adulthood for working class young men in the de-industrialised North East region (ESRC 3); a DTC Collaborative PhD with PUCRS Brazil entitled 'Violence and Fear in Homeless Careers: A Biographical Investigation of Young Adult Female Homelessness' (PhD student Clare Vaughan). Previously supervised an ESRC funded post-doctorate on 'Work, self-employment and enterprise in the cultural sector: the case of musicians' (Susan Coulson).


Robert Hollands, Urban Cultural Movements and the Struggle for Alternative Creative Space, Major Research Fellowship, Leverhulme Trust (Sept 2015-August 2017)

Robert Hollands* (with John Vail) The Promise of a Transformative Arts: A Political and Cultural Analyses of the Amber Collective (December 2008-January 2010) (£99,000)

Robert Hollands* (with Lee Monaghan) Male Embodiment, Fatness and Risk: Exploring Social Meanings and Practices, Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, September 2005- November 2006 (£31,022).

Robert Hollands*, The Role of Cultural Festivals in Urban Regeneration: The Case of the Prague Fringe Theatre Festival. Consultancy funded by the Prague Fringe Theatre Festival, Prague, June 2003-15 

(Diane Richardson*, Robert Hollands and Elaine Campbell) Drug Prevention Programme for Vulnerable and At Risk Young People: An Evaluation Study. Funded by the Northumberland Health Authority, December 2000-Sept 2001 (£43,000).

(Diane Richardson*, Elaine Campbell, Robin Humphrey and Robert Hollands) Pathways to Youth Crime Reduction. Funded by the Youth Justice Board, April 2000-March 2002 (£171,000).

(Robert Hollands* and Paul Chatterton) Youth Cultures, Identities and the Consumption of Night-life City Spaces. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, January 2000-March 2002 (£123,044). See project web-page for further details.

Robert Hollands,* Native Canadian Youth Identities and Cultures. Funded by the Canadian High Commission, London, February 1999-2000 (£2000).

Robert Hollands,* Drugs, Prevention Initiatives and Young People: A Comparative Study of the U.K., the Netherlands and Israel. Funded by Public Management Associates, Warwickshire, October 1998-2002 (£8000)

Robert Hollands* Youth Cultures and the Use of Urban City Space. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, October 1993-1994 (£15,953).

(* denotes principal investigator of grant)


Undergraduate Teaching

SOC 2O41 Issues in Urban Sociology: Conflict and Culture in the City
SOC 3046 Youth in Transition

Postgraduate Teaching

SOC 8046 Cities, Economies, Cultures (bi-annually)