Dr Phil Child

Dr Phil Child

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Phil is a political historian of modern Britain, focused on cities, housing and voluntary action. He is also a member of the Civil Society and Volunteering research theme and an associate member of the Centre for Modern British Studies within the Department of History.  


  • PhD in History, University of Exeter (2016)
  • MPhil in Modern European History, King's College, University of Cambridge (2012)
  • BA (Hons) in History with European Study, University of Exeter (2010)


Phil studied history at undergraduate level at the University of Exeter and took his MPhil at the University of Cambridge, before returning to the University of Exeter for his PhD. He began working at the University of Birmingham in July 2017, as a Research Fellow on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Community-level perspectives on post-war change in the British voluntary sector’ based in TSRC. Following completion of that project in December 2019, Phil returned to the department as an Honorary Research Fellow in March 2020. 


Phil has contributed to a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, including: 

  • Philosophies of Welfare
  • Policy into Practice
  • Policy Analysis
  • From Beveridge to May
  • Dissertation Supervision


Phil’s research is focused on the political history of urbanism in twentieth-century Britain. 

He is nearing completion of his first book, foregrounding our cultural memory of post-1945 urban modernism - a truly global phenomenon - within a context of left-wing political ideas about the future of Britain. This study utilises the perspectives of Labour Party activists to determine how political visions of the future entangled with urban modernism in the making of urban policy, centring political ideas as a key influence on policy development. Part of this research has been published in a well-received article on rent control in Twentieth Century British History

Phil's concern for putting political ideas and ideologies at the heart of our understanding of urbanism is reflected in his most recent and forthcoming published articles: the first, situating elite understandings of what voluntarism ought to be against the complexity of an overlooked 1940s Mass-Observation urban district survey; and the second, exploring 1980s inner-city policy in the light of black youth homelessness and the neoliberal welfare state. A further article in preparation considers how late-twentieth century urban spaces intersected with sexual violence and feminist activism, through a study of the Rape Crisis movement. 

His next major research project, for which he has begun preliminary research, takes a neglected section of post-war British history as its starting point through an investigation of the political history of private renting since 1957. 



Child, Phil (forthcoming), The Labour Party, Housing and Urban Transformation: In Place of Squalor.

Journal articles

Child, Phil (2021) ‘Race, homelessness and inner-city policy in 1980s Britain’, Urban History, 1-18.

Child, Phil (2019) ‘Blacktown, Mass-Observation and the dynamics of voluntary action in mid-twentieth century England’, The Historical Journal, 63:3, 754-776

Child, Phil (2018)  ‘Landlordism, Rent Regulation and the Labour Party in mid-twentieth century Britain, 1950-64’, Twentieth Century British History, 29:1, 79-103.

Book reviews and short publications

Child, Phil (2022) Review: Sam Wetherell, Foundations: How the Built Environment Made Twentieth-Century Britain (Princeton, 2020), Journal of Contemporary History, 57:1, 189-190. 

Child, Phil (2020) ‘The Labour Party Has a Long History of Fighting Landlords’, Jacobin.

Child, Phil (2020) ‘Labour’s Radical Renting History’, Tribune.

Child, Phil (2020), Review: Otto Saumarez Smith, Boom Cities: architect-planners and the politics of radical urban renewal in 1960s Britain (Oxford, 2019), Contemporary British History, 34:2, 325-326. 

Child, Phil (2018) ‘Wladimir Fischer-Nebmaier Matthew P. Berg and Anastasia Christou (eds.) (2015) Narrating the City: Histories, Space and the Everyday’ Urban History, 45:1, 181-182.

Child, Phil (2016), ‘Tower block boom: how high rise apartments became the height of luxury’, The Conversation.

Child, Phil (2015), ‘Peter Shapely (ed.) (2014) People and Planning: report of the committee on public participation in planning (The Skeffington Committee Report)’ Planning Perspectives, 30:3, 484-485.

Child, Phil (2014), ‘Regulating housing: neither new nor radical’, History & Policy

View all publications in research portal