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.
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
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.Jesse Heley Bio