- Nicolas Zehner
- Sociology School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
- Edinburgh UK
- Research Interests
- Cities, urban sociology, Economic Sociology, Imagination, expectations, Sociology of expectations and futures, Dynamics of capitalism, Urban Ethnography, political economy of urban design, economic sociology of imagination, data-driven innovation
Planning for Uncertain Futures: Materialising Urban Visions in Edinburgh (working title)
The research problem of this ESRC-funded project is concerned with projective agency (Emirbayer and Mische, 1998) in an urban planning setting. Projective agency denotes “the imaginative generation by actors of possible future trajectories of action, in which received structures of thought and action may be creatively reconfigured in relation to actors’ hopes, fears, and desires for the future” (ibid.: 971). Taking the latter as the primary unit of analysis, this study examines the construction and diffusion of images of the future. In other words, I am investigating the ways in which urban planning agents imagine futures and the reasons why certain futures become sufficiently credible while others do not.
Tackling this problem, this PhD project presents a sociological intervention into the sociotechnical process by which urban planning agents construct futures. Doing so, it is theoretically and analytically rooted at the intersection of an emergent literature in the sociology of expectations (Borup et al., 2006; Beckert 2013, 2016; Beckert and Bronk, 2018) and an actor-network approach of the urban (Latour and Hermant, 1998; Law, 2002; Blok and Farias, 2016; Farias and Bender, 2010).
Examining projective agency in an urban planning setting, this study engages with the implementation of a contemporary urban redevelopment project, the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal. The latter represents a £1.3bn investment by the Scottish and UK governments and local partners over the next fifteen years, which is designed to accelerate inclusive growth through the funding of infrastructure, skills and data-driven innovation.
Master of Arts in International Political Economy 2016-2017
University of Warwick
Dissertation: "Social Acceleration and the Imagination of Alternative Economic Futures"
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Politics & Economics 2012-2016
Book reviews / essays
Zehner, N (2019) Double book review of Göran Therborn (2017) Cities of Power. The Urban, the National, the Popular, the Global and Michael Sorkin (2018) What goes up. The Right and Wrongs to the City in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.
"Planning for an Uncertain Future - Storying Urban Visions in Edinburgh", New Directions Conference, Edinburgh, April 19, 2019.
Sociology 1a: The Sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society (SCIL08004), tutorial, essay assessment and marking; 1st year UG main lecture, winter semester 2019; University of Edinburgh
ESRC Studentship 2019-2022
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) PROMOS Scholarship 2014