Dr Rachel Macrorie

Research Associate

About Rachel

Rachel is a Postdoctoral Research Associate whose work analyses the potential for transformations in infrastructures, governance processes and everyday practices of urban life to enhance environmental sustainability and social equity.

She joined the Urban Institute having gained her doctorate from University of East Anglia School of Environmental Sciences, where she was a member of the critical social science research group 3S (Science, Society and Sustainability). 

Prior to returning to academia and graduating from the University of Leeds with a MSc (distinction) in Sustainability: Business, Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility, Rachel worked as an Environmental Consultant for the international firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM).

Research interests

Rachel’s research interests are situated at the interface of Urban Studies, Human Geography, Science and Technology Studies and Environmental Sociology and her work can be grouped according to three interrelated themes. 1. Automating the city: How are digital, automated and robotic infrastructures reshaping urban life, and with what consequences for society and human experience? 2. Urban governance & experiments in knowledge politics: How are experiments in governance and emerging sets of actors influencing decision-making in the city, and with what implications for knowledge politics, power and control, and forms of citizenship? 3. Sustainability innovations & urban transformations: How can more environmentally sustainable consumption policies, everyday practices and resource flows be encouraged across different domains of urban life?

Rachel’s current research situates her primarily within the UI’s theme of Urban Automation and Robotics, for which she is involved in a number of research and writing projects.

Most recently, she has co-organised an international workshop examining the role of digital infrastructures known as ‘platforms’, and possibilities for socially progressive alternatives to their monopolistic value-extraction from the city.

She also currently works on a European comparative Open Research Area (ORA) funded project investigating the knowledge politics of smart urban experimentation and the implications for urban decision-making.


  • Fields D, Bissell D and Macrorie R (2020) Platform methods: Studying platform urbanism outside the black box. Urban Geography
  • Macrorie R, Marvin S and While A (2019) Robotics and automation in the city: a research agenda. Urban Geography
  • Macrorie R and Marvin S (2019) Bifurcated urban integration: The selective dis- and re-assembly of infrastructures. Urban Studies, 56(11), 2207-2224.
  • de Hoop E et al. (2019) Smart as a global vision? Exploring smart in local district development projects. Architecture and Culture, 7(2), 1–19.
  • Foulds C, Robinson RAV, Macrorie R (2017) ‘Energy monitoring as a practice: Investigating use of the iMeasure online energy feedback tool’ Energy Policy 104: 194-202
  • Sharp L, Macrorie R, and Turner A (2015) ‘Resource efficiency and the imagined public: insights from cultural theory’ Global Environmental Change 34: 196-206

Macrorie R and Wade F (2016) (Eds.).Daily life, digital technologies and energy demand – A working paper collection, Sheffield, Cambridge: Urban Institute (University of Sheffield), Balance Network (Balance Network, Anglia Ruskin University). Available at: http://balancenetwork.bimserver2.com

de Hoop E, Smith A, Boon W, Macrorie R, Marvin S, & Raven R (2019). Smart urbanism in Barcelona: A knowledge politics perspective. In: Stissing Jensen J, Spaeth P and Cashmere M (eds) The Politics of Urban Sustainability Transitions: Knowledge, Power and Governance. ISBN: 9781138479654

Macrorie R, Foulds C, Hargreaves T (2015) Governing and governed by practices: Exploring interventions in low-carbon housing policy and practice’. In Y Strengers and C Maller, eds. (2014) Social practices, interventions and sustainability: Beyond behaviour change. London: Routledge.

Marvin S, While A, Kovacic M, Lockhart A and Macrorie R (2018). Urban Robotics and Automation: Critical challenges, international experiments and transferable lessons for the UK. White paper report for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) network.

Macrorie R (2018) Three ‘living labs’ which show how autonomous robots are changing cities, The Conversation, July 12 2018, <https://theconversation.com/three-living-labs-which-show-how-autonomous-robots-are-changing-cities-99477>.

Macrorie R (2016) Re-constructing low-energy housing using ‘systems of practice’. PhD Thesis, University of East Anglia, UK.
Supervisors: Drs. Tom Hargreaves, Irene Lorenzoni, and Jane C Powell.
Examiners: Prof. Gordon Walker, Dr. Jason Chilvers.