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

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Dr Jesse Heley

DrJesseHeley.JPGRole: Co-investigator

Institution: Aberystwyth University

Telephone: 01970 621601


Jesse received a BA in Human Geography with International Politics and an MA in Space, Place & Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.  Having completed his Ph.D. at the same institution on the subject of ‘Rurality, Class, Aspiration and the Emergence of a New Squirearchy’, Jesse was initially employed by DGES as a Research Assistant on a project entitled 'Rural People and the Land; a Case for Sustainable Connections'. Jesse was appointed as a Research Associate for the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods in January 2009.  A member of the localities team, his work focused on how people in mid Wales make sense of their locality, and how this translates into practice.  Jesse was awarded a Lectureship in Human Geography in Aberystwyth in April 2012.

Research Interests

Jesse’s research is situated within the broad fields of political geography, economic geography and spatial planning, being particularly concerned with rural restructuring and shifting class dynamics in the British countryside.   Currently, Jesse’s research addresses the following substantive topics:

  • The impact of relational conceptions of space: In particular, how concepts of relational space are being applied to rural studies and potential developments in this field.
  • The evolution of spatial planning practice in the devolved UK and how conceptual shifts in spatial planning policy are unfolding on the ground.  This includes a specific interest in the rise of city-regional planning and the implications of this turn in terms of the governance and development of rural space.
  • Rural gentrification and the performance of class identities in rural communities, with particular reference to the shifting composition of the rural middle class.
  • Ethnography and the ethical implications of undertaking ‘native’, ‘local’ and ‘insider’ research.
  • The connection between music and processes of region-building 

Current Research

Jesse is currently working as a co-investigator on the project ‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Gobalization’ (GLOBAL-RURAL). This is a five-year research project (Feb 2014 - Jan 2019) funded by the European Research Council. The project aims to advance understanding of globalization and its workings in and through rural localities. The project is being led by Professor Michael Woods, and the research team includes Dr Laura Jones, Dr Marc Welsh, Dr Anthonia Onyeahialam

As part of the WISERD Civil Society Research Centre,  Jesse is convening Work Package 4.3 Ageing, Serious Leisure and the Contribution of the Grey Economy (with Dr Laura Jones and Professor Paul Milbourne). This project is set to explore the value that the non-working/ retired over 60s group attach to and extract from ‘serious leisure’ pursuits, the interaction between serious leisure and social class, and the value of serious leisure pursuits as part of the social and economic fabric of local and regional economies.

Click here to view Jesse’s official Aberystwyth University bio page.


Year | Journal Articles | Book Chapters | Reports | Conference Contributions

Journal Articles

Book Chapters


Conference Contributions



Latest News
Young People and Brexit

22nd March 2017

WISERD has recently been awarded ESRC funding to carry out a new interdisciplinary study into how young people in the UK feel about, and are responding to, the most significant policy issue of this Parliament: the UK’s exit from the European Union.


Poverty and Food Banks in Wales

16th March 2017

Poverty and the rise of food banks in Wales were the focus of research shared at WISERD’s latest civil society seminar, held at Cardiff last night. PhD student, David Beck and Dr Hefin Gwilym from Bangor University’s School of Social Sciences presented findings from their research exploring the experience of food poverty in Wales.


Featured Events
26 April, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Aberystwyth University (room to be confirmed)

As part of the WISERD Centre for Welsh Politics and Society Seminar Series, Dr Taulant Guma from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University presents emerging findings from the WISERD/Civil Society project on ‘Migrants, Minorities and Engagement in Local Civil Society’.