ET2 The Politics of the Senses


In tonight’s lecture I would like to think in more detail about the politics of the senses. The way we sense and what we sense is often taken for granted, regarded as a psychobiological tool of perception or deemed as ‘natural’. In this lecture, I will draw on my research on urban change and redevelopment to discuss how sensing is a deeply social, cultural and political phenomenon. I will argue that sensory dynamics are underpinned by and frame power relations in society. Drawing on a range of research projects from Qatar, Barcelona and London I will argue that managing sensory experiences has become a key tool to control and organise social life in contemporary societies.




Howes, D. (2005) Empire of the Senses. Oxford:Berg.
Degen, M. (2018) “Timescapes and Urban Change: the street”. Sociological Review. Invited contribution to special issue, published online.
Degen, M., Melhuish C., Rose, G. (2015) “Producing Place Atmospheres Digitally: Architecture, Digital Visualisation Practices and the Experience Economy.” Journal of Consumer Culture 17 (1) 3-34.
Degen, M. & Rose, G. (2012) “The Sensory experiencing of Urban Design: The role of walking and Perceptual memory”. Urban Studies 49(15) 3271-3287.
Degen, M. (2008). Sensing Cities: Regenerating public life in Barcelona and Manchester. London: Routledge.


Course location

Dining Hall

Course requirements


Instructor information.

Monica Degen


Brunel University London


Dr Mónica Degen is a Reader in Cultural Sociology in the Political and Social Sciences Department at Brunel University London. Her research focuses on the politics of space with a particular interest in the ways sensory, temporal and emotional dimensions underpin urban culture and politics. Over the years has been working on several international research projects with architects, local councils, museum curators and the general public to research the role of the senses in framing architectural practices, everyday life and culture in cities from Doha (Qatar) to Cologne, Barcelona and London. She was awarded in 2016 the highly esteemed British Academy Fellowship to research ‘Timescapes of Urban Change’ ( where she explored how different perceptions of time converge or conflict in urban regeneration processes to produce a particular sense of place. She has published her work extensively and is now working on a new book with Prof G.Rose (Oxford University) on digital cultures and urban experiences commissioned by Bloomsbury.