Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

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Dr Robin Smith

Job Title: Linked WISERD Researcher

Institution: Cardiff University

Telephone: 029 208 70330


Formerly a WISERD researcher, I have been a Lecturer in Social Sciences since September 2012.

For updates of activities, publications and other stuff you can follow my work on Twitter (@Dr_Robin_Smith) or on

Research Interests

My research is concerned with the everyday life of urban public spaces. I am interested in both the street-level politics and the mundane accomplishment of public space in the context of regeneration and renewal. I am, as such, also interested in investigating issues pertaining to urban design, architecture and the built environment. These themes have been addressed through research on everyday sense-making in regenerated space, practices of street-based welfare and vulnerable urban groups and, most recently, an investigation of co-operative mobility practices.

My work is primarily sociological and, specifically, draws upon the interactionist tradition and the work of Erving Goffman. It is, however, also influenced by interdisciplinary work on mobility, space and place. I have an abiding interest in social science methodology.

Current Research

I continue to publish, with Dr Tom Hall, from the completed ‘Urban Patrols’ WISERD project. This was a field study of street based professionals whose roles are understood as mobile and spatial practices that relate to forms of ‘care and repair’ (both material and social) in the city centre. This involved (participant) observation with diverse patrols such as outreach services attending to vulnerable adults (rough sleepers, street drinkers, sex workers) street cleansing crews, and Police Community Support Officers. The research was particularly concerned with the provision of welfare to, and regulation of, vulnerable and problematic street populations, but also documenting and analysing local knowledge in relation to (pedestrian) mobility practices.

I am currently exploring further avenues of research which investigate the relationship between urban design, the built environment and interaction.

Click here to view Robin’s official Cardiff University bio page



Smith, R.J. and Hetherington, K. (Eds.) (In Press) Urban Rhythms: Mobilities, Space and Interaction in the contemporary city Sociological Review Monograph Series. Chichester: Wiley   

Book Chapters

Smith, R.J. (In Press) ‘Symbolic Interaction’ in E. Mason-Whitehead, E., A. Mcintosh and D. Coyle Key Concepts in Healthcare Research. London: Sage

Smith, R.J. and Hall, T. (In Press) ‘No time out: mobility, rhythmicity and urban patrol in the twenty-four hour city’ in R.J. Smith, and K. Hetherington (Eds.) (In Press) Urban Rhythms: Mobilities, Space and Interaction in the contemporary city Sociological Review Monograph Series. Chichester: Wiley 

Journal Articles

Smith, R.J. (2013) Accounting for the landscape of regeneration: spatial membership, categorisation practices and the moral order of commonsense topographies. Space and Culture 16(1): 43-59

Smith, R.J. (2011) Goffman’s Interaction Order at the Margins: Stigma, role, and normalisation in the outreach encounter. [Special Issue: Interaction] Symbolic Interaction 34(3): 357-376

Smith, R.J., Heley, J., Stafford, I. (2011) Woolworths and Wales: A multi-dimensional analysis Sociological Research Online16 (1) 

Hall, T. and Smith, R.J. (2013) Knowing the city: maps, mobility and urban outreach work. Qualitative Research [Online First. 24/01/13] DOI: 10.1177/1468794112469623

Hall, T. and Smith, R.J. (2012) Stop and go: a field study of pedestrian practice, immobility and urban outreach work. Mobilities. [Online First, 25/03/12] DOI:10.1080/17450101.2012.659470

Hall, T. and Smith, R.J. (2011) Walking, Welfare and the Good City Anthropology in Action 18(3): 33-44

Housely, W. and Smith, R.J. (2011) Mundane reason, membership categorization practices and the everyday ontology of space and place in interview talk. Qualitative Research 11(6): 698-715

Housley W. and Smith, R.J. (2011) Telling the CAQDAS Code: Membership Categorization and the Accomplishment of ‘Coding Rules’ in Research Team Talk Discourse Studies 13(4): 417-434 

Housley, W. and Smith, R.J. (2010) Innovation and Reduction in Qualitative Methods: The Case of Conceptual Coupling, Activity-Type Pairs and Auto-Ethnography Sociological Research Online 15 (4) 

Housley, W., Moles, K., and Smith, R.J. (2009) Identity, Brand or Citizenship: The Case of Post-Devolution Wales Contemporary Wales 22: 196-210  

Review Essay

Smith, R.J. (2012) How far does mobility get us? Sociology 45 (6): 555-561  

Other Publications

Housley, W. and Smith, R.J. (2011) Stripping Out the Social: Innovation and Reduction in Contemporary Qualitative Methods Qualitative Researcher Spring

Smith, R.J. (2011) Whose Method is it Anyway? Researching space, setting, and practice Cardiff University Working Paper Series Paper 135 



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