Professor David Uzzell

Research Interests

I have undertaken research on a number of different areas of people-environment relationships, whether in urban or rural environments, in domestic, work or leisure environments, on issues of health, environmental understanding, appreciation or change, there have been a number of key theoretical themes which have run through my research. My research has always been a) interdisciplinary, i.e., I have worked with architects, planners, landscape architects, environmental scientists, engineers, mathematicians, archaeologists, as well as sociologists and economists, b) international, with many projects undertaken with colleagues in Australia, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands,  c) policy-oriented and applied. While I have undertaken a number of studies for national Research Councils (UK - ESRC, EPSRC, NERC; Sweden - FAS, Vetenskaprådet), much of my research has been supported by the EU, UK national and local governments, as well as industry and charitable trusts.

My early research was in the area of participation, in particular public participation in the urban planning process. This research not only focussed on the methods and mechanisms of participation – how can one involve the public more in decisions which affect their lives and environment and what are the constraints on and opportunities for greater public participation, but also what are the social, psychological and educational benefits for this kind of engagement in urban life, for the development of the individual and communities?  These research questions have continued to inform my research until the present day and have been addressed in a range of subsequent projects in different research domains.

A second theoretical interest has focussed on risk – people’s awareness of, attitudes towards and behaviours in response to risky situations and environments, and life under conditions of uncertainty. The areas investigated have included crime in urban environments and transport settings, risk and safety in recreational environments, perceived risk and concern about a) mining subsidence, b) the production of nuclear power, and disposal of nuclear and chemical waste, c) zoonotic diseases.

A third theoretical interest is examining the role of social and place identity as an intervening, mediating variable in affecting and encouraging environmental action. This research has led to highly cited publications in international journals such that my 1996 paper (with Clare Twigger-Ross, Jnl of Environmental Psychology, 1996; 490 citations) is the second highest cited publication in the field, after the originator of the concept. My work in this area is now examining the role of identity in the workplace.

Having undertaking research for many years examining the learning effectiveness of exhibitions and other interpretive media in museums and heritage sites, being practically involved in the planning, design, management and use of heritage facilities and services, my recent work has focussed writing critical theoretical commentaries on the ‘heritage industry’, with a particular emphasis on collective memory and identity. I was one of the International Advisors on the EU funded project CRIC: Cultural Heritage and the Reconstruction of Identities after Conflict (2008-2012), and I have recently started a new project with Jan Packer and Roy Ballantyne (University of Queensland colleagues): ‘On being Australian: Exploring the role of Anzac museum and heritage interpretive experiences in developing visitors’ sense of national identity’

For the last twenty years my research has addressed issues around mitigation and adaptation to climate change. I was the first psychologist in the UK (at an ESRC/UK Government conference) to discuss the contribution of psychology to this area, challenging the assumptions made by economists which then were driving UK government policy. Since that date, I have undertaken 24 research projects under the broad heading of sustainable development. Over the last 10 years this research has focussed on strategies for attitude and behaviour change, especially in the area of waste, transport and energy, as well as attitudes and practices in respect of climate change. In recent years the emphasis of my research has switched from changing consumer behaviour to examining the social and psychological constraints on and opportunities for changing production processes, because working ‘upstream’ offers the most effective way of achieving the significant changes that will be required if we are to meet national and international carbon reduction challenges. Over the past six years I have been leading a research programme with Professor Nora Räthzel (Umeå University) examining the policies and practices of national and international trade unions in respect of climate change mitigation (FAS), the opportunities and constraints on ‘heavy’ industry (Volvo trucks, Shell)  reducing the carbon emissions of the workforce both through the production process and the work practices and home lifestyles of their employees (EU-FP7), and the role of individuals as (climate) change agents within organisations (VR). Some of this work is published in Räthzel, N. and Uzzell, D. (2013) Trade Unions in the Green Economy: Working for the Environment, London: Earthscan/Routledge.

Research Collaborations

Professor Nora Räthzel, Department of Sociology, University of Umeå

Dr Ricardo Garcia Mira, University of La Coruna


BSc in Psychology

PSY3026: Environmental Psychology

PSY3065: Dissertation Workshops

MSc Programme

PSYM013: Social Change and Influence

PSYM033: Inquiry and Design

                  Work, Health and Environment

PSYM014: Self and Identity in Context

PSYM027: Critical reflections on Social Psych research

                   Professional skills


British Psychological Society (Fellow)

International Association for People-Environment Studies

Current Research Projects

Research Area: Production, Labour and the Environment


Low Carbon at Work: Modelling Agents and Organisations to Achieve Transition to a Low Carbon Europe
Investigators: WP5 Leaders: David Uzzell (University of Surrey); Nora Räthzel (University of Umeå); Project Co-ordinator: Ricardo Garcia Mira (University of La Coruña)
Funded: EU – FP7

LOCAW involves the participation of seven other research organizations: University of Corunna-Spain (Co-ordinator); West University of Timisoara-Romania, James Hutton Research Institute, Aberdeen; University of Groningen, The Netherlands;  University of Rome La Sapienza-Italy.   

LOCAW is investigating six organizations in six European countries (Italy, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, UK) to understand the social macro and micro-level conditions which act as drivers for and constraints upon sustainable practices in production processes. Workpackage 5 focuses in particular on the relationship between energy consuming and GHG emitting practices at work and outside work in relation to heavy industry. The research is being undertaken through two case studies: Shell UK plc and Volvo Trucks (Umeå). Research questions:

  • What are the management and trade union strategies to reduce the consumption of resources and GHG emissions?
  • How do everyday practices in the workplace act as barriers and/or drivers for sustainable production at individual, organizational and societal levels?
  • How do employees and managers relate their practices at the workplace to their practices outside the workplace? What kind of different and possibly contradictory practices and identities does the work-family interface create?
  • What relationships and what forms of communication exist to support cooperation between employers, trade unions, and employees in transitioning to a sustainable, low-carbon society? What examples of good practice exist and what is necessary for them to flourish?


Moments of Danger, Moments of Opportunity: the Role of Individuals as Change Agents in Trade Unions
Investigators: Nora Räthzel (University of Umeå); David Uzzell (University of Surrey); Diana Mulinari (University of Lund), Annette Schnabel (University of Wuppertal)
Funded: Vetenskapsrådet/Swedish Research Council



This study will investigate the significance individuals as agents of change in trade unions. The analysis seeks to illuminate our understanding of the capacity of civil society organisations in general and TUs in particular to address the challenges of profound transformations at a national and international level. The study will analyse the role of individuals in developing new trade union policies against the background of global political, economic, and environmental changes. The unions selected are international, regional, national and local metalworkers and agricultural unions in Sweden, the UK, Spain, Brazil, South Africa and India. The research will combine qualitative methods of life-history and oral history with quantitative survey methods.

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 9430

Find me on campus
Room: 20 AD 04

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My office hours

Monday 13.00 - 15.00


Selected Recent Journal Papers

R Lundström, R, Räthzel, N., & Uzzell, D., (Forthcoming) ‘Disconnected Spaces: introducing environmental perspectives into the trade union agenda top-down and bottom-up’, Environmental Sociology,

Räthzel, N., Uzzell, D., Lundström, R. and Leandro, B.  (Forthcoming 2015) ‘Spaces of civil society and the practices of resistance and subordination’, Journal of Civil Society.

Gatersleben B, Murtagh N, Cowen L, and Uzzell D (2015) ‘Does automated technology undermine pro-environmental behaviour?’ Journal of Environmental Psychology, 42, 139-148

Murtagh, N., Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2014) A qualitative study of perspectives on household and societal impact of demand response, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 26(10), 1131-1143

Räthzel, N.  & Uzzell, D. (2014) ‘Environmental engagements of trade unions and the North-South divide’, Mouvements, 80, 106-110.

Murtagh N, Gatersleben B, Uzzell D (2014) ‘20∶60∶20 - Differences in Energy Behaviour and Conservation between and within Households with Electricity Monitors’. PLoS ONE 9(3): e92019. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092019

Acuña-Rivera M, Uzzell D, Brown J (2014) ‘The mediating role of risk perception in neighbourhood disorder and perceptions of safety about victimization’ Journal of Environmental Psychology 40:64-75

Murtagh, N., Nati, M., Headley, W. R., Gatersleben, B., Gluhak, A., Imran, M. A., & Uzzell, D. (2013). Individual energy use and feedback in an office setting: A field trial. Energy Policy, 62, 717-728.

Marcu, A., Barnett, J., Uzzell, D., Vasileiou, K. and O’Connell, S. (2013) ‘Experience of Lyme disease and preferences for precautions: a cross-sectional survey of UK patients’, BMC Public Health, 13(1): 481 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-481

Spinney, J., Burningham, K., Cooper, G., Green, N., Uzzell, D. (2013) "‘What I’ve found is that your related experiences tend to make you dissatisfied’”, Journal of Consumer Culture, 12, 3, 347 – 370.

O’Brien, L., Marcu, A., Marzano, M., Barnett, J., Quine, C. and Uzzell, D. (2012) ‘Situating risk in the context of a woodland visit: a case study on Lyme Borreliosis’, Scottish Forestry, 66, 4, 14-24

Spinney, J., Green, N., Burningham, K., Cooper, G., Uzzell, D. (2012) 'Are we sitting comfortably? Domestic imaginaries, laptop practices, and energy use', Environment and Planning A, 44, 11, 2629 - 2645

Räthzel, N. and Uzzell, D. (2012) ‘Mending the breach between labour and nature: Environmental engagements of trade unions and the North-South divide’, Interface: a Journal for and about Social Movements, 4, 2, 81 -100

Murtagh, N., Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2012) Self-identity Threat and Resistance to Change: Evidence from Regular Travel Behaviour, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32, 4, 318-326

Murtagh, N., Gatersleben, B. & Uzzell, D. (2012) Multiple identities and travel mode choice for regular journeys, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 15, 5, 514 – 524

Uzzell, D., Marcu, A., and Barnett, J (2012) Whose Lyme is it Anyway? Subject Positions and the Construction of Responsibility for Managing the Health Risks from Lyme Disease, Health and Place, 18, 5, 1101 - 1109

Räthzel, N. and Uzzell, D. (2011) Natur oder Arbeit? Dilemmata und Perspektiven gewerkschaftlicher Umweltpolitik, Das Argument (Journal of Philosophy and Social Sciences), 249, 734 - 744.

Räthzel, N. and Uzzell, D. (2011) ‘Trade Unions and Climate Change: The Jobs versus Environment Dilemma’, Global Environmental Change, 21, 1215–1223 (2012 BSA Climate Change Study Group Article Prize)

Marcu, A., Uzzell, D. & Barnett, J.  (2011) Making sense of unfamiliar risks in the countryside: the case of Lyme disease, Health and Place, 17, 3, 843-850.



Räthzel, N. and Uzzell, D. (eds) (2013) Trade Unions in the Green Economy: Working for the Environment, London: Earthscan/Routledge.

Chapters in Books
Uzzell, D., Räthzel, N. Garcia-Mira, R. & Dumitru, A. (Forthcoming) Global challenges for environmental psychology: the place of labour and production

Uzzell, D. (2015) ‘The Time of Place’, in Sørensen, M. L. S.  and Viejo Rose, D. (Eds)  War and Cultural Heritage: Biographies of Places, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Uzzell, D. (2014). ‘Le flâneur-chercher: la vie et l’œuvre de Gabriel Moser’ in Marchand, D., Depeau, S. and Weiss, K. (editors) L’individu au risqué de l’environnement, Paris: Éditions in Press, 349 - 359

Murtagh, N., Gatersleben, B., & Uzzell, D. (2014). Identity threat and resistance to change: evidence and implications from transport-related behavior. In G. M. Breakwell & R. Jaspal (Eds.), Identity Process Theory: Identity, Social Action and Social Change (pp. 335 – 352). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Uzzell, D. (2013) Greening the office and job satisfaction in Rioux L, Le Roy J, Rubens L, Le Conte J.  (eds) Le confort au travail : que nous apprend la psychologie environnementale? , Québec: Les Presses de L'Université Laval, 61 - 81

Uzzell, D and White, E.  (Forthcoming: 2015) ‘Changing Tastes: Meat in Our Life Histories’, in Jackson, T and I Christie (eds.) Lifestyles Values and the Environment. London: Earthscan/Routledge.

Uzzell, D. and Räthzel, N. (2013) ‘Local Place and Global Space: Solidarity Across Borders and the Question of the Environment’, in N. Räthzel and D. Uzzell (eds) Trade Unions in the Green Economy: Working for the Environment, London: Earthscan/Routledge, 241- 256

Uzzell, D. and Räthzel, N. (2013) ‘Mending the breach between labour and nature: A new research field’ Environmental Labour Studies’, in N. Räthzel and D. Uzzell (eds) Trade Unions in the Green Economy: Working for the Environment, London: Earthscan/Routledge, 1 - 12

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