Dr David Smith


Faculty:Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

School:Education and Social Care

Location: Chelmsford

Areas of Expertise: Social Work and Social Policy

Research Supervision:Yes

David's area of expertise include the following: Social and health inequalities; lay health beliefs and practices; neighbourhoods, communities and social relations; social network analysis; the health of minority groups; Gypsies Roma and Travellers; internationalisation of the healthcare workforce.


ResearchGate profile


David has an interest in social and health inequalities and the development, implementation and impact of policies to address these. His PhD examined the impact of labour market restructuring and welfare reforms on residents of a south London housing estate. This was published as On the Margins of Inclusion (Policy Press: 2005) and won the 2006 Social Policy Association prize for Best New Publication. He has expertise in community based research, working class communities and Gypsies Roma and Travellers particularly with regard to the impacts of settlement on the social and communal structures of formerly nomadic communities. In 2013 he published, with Professor Margaret Greenfields the first in depth study of this trend in Gypsies and Travellers in housing (Policy Press).

Recently David has worked on research into the reasons for low MMR uptake in Gypsy and Traveller children; lay beliefs and practices around cancer in those communities and attitudes and experiences of palliative and end of life care in BME groups. Between 2012 and 2016 he was Country Coordinator for the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion and since 2014 has been a member of the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs Scientific Committee of the PDP 4 Integrated Approach for Prevention of Victimization in Roma Communities. He is also academic lead for Medway Council’s Controlling Migration Fund project and Senior Survey expert on an IPSOS MORI survey about Roma and Travellers.

Research interests

  • Social divisions and exclusion
  • Social class and class cultures
  • Ethnicity and health
  • Lay health beliefs and practices
  • Childhood immunization
  • Social network analysis
  • Gypsies, Roma and Travellers
  • Healthcare workforce
  • Participatory and collaborative approaches to social research

Areas of research supervision

  • Gypsies Roma and Travellers
  • Working class communities
  • Work and labour studies
  • Health inequalities
  • Culture and health
  • Migration studies (particularly from East and Central Europe)
  • Qualitative and ethnographic research
  • Participatory approaches to health development
Current PhD supervision

Izabela Jonna Benisz, ‘Making sense of higher education: a comparative study of higher education in England and Poland through its impact on Polish graduates living in England’ (University of Greenwich VC scholar to submit summer 2018).

Miranda Waterworth, ‘A mixed methods case study exploring the correlations between accommodation and planning situations and the experience of health and wellbeing for English Gypsy communities in South Bucks and Irish Traveller communities in Ealing’ (University of Greenwich VC scholar to submit summer 2018).


Social theory, sociology of health and illness, community and wellbeing, social divisions and exclusion, qualitative and ethnographic methods, participatory and collaborative approaches to health promotion, political economy of health, historical and contemporary social policy, social structure of contemporary Britain.


  • Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (Higher Education) Canterbury Christ Church University, 2010, 2:1
  • PhD Social Policy, Royal Holloway College, University of London 2003
  • BA (Hons) Sociology and Social Policy, Royal Holloway College, 1996, 1st class
  • Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Trinity College London, 1996, 2:1

Memberships, editorial boards

  • European Academic Network on Romani Studies, (Member)
  • Working Class Studies Association (Member)
  • Social Policy Association (Member)
  • Network of Academic Institutions in Romani Studies (Institutional Representative)
  • Gypsy Lore Society (member)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • IPSOS MORI/ EU FRA Roma and Traveller Survey (£11,250 Senior Survey Expert, February 2018-August 2019).
  • Medway Council, Controlling Migration Fund project (£30,000 Academic Lead, March 2018-March 2020)
  • University of Greenwich Applied Sociology Research Network, The impact of Brexit on Polish Community Members with children living in London: an exploratory pilot project (£1,000 Co-Investigator, April-August 2017)
  • Health Education England Kent Surrey Sussex End of Life Care Programme, Learning Alliance Palliative and End of Life Care (£35,660 Co-Principal Investigator, January 2017-July 2017)
  • University of Greenwich Faculty of Education and Health REF Funds 2015-16, ‘Exploring lay understandings of cancer in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’( £8,042 Principal Investigator October 2015-July 2016)
  • Health Education Kent Surrey Sussex (HEKSS), End of Life Practices and Palliative Care among Black and Minority Ethnic Groups (£51,065 Co-Principal Investigator, April 2014-May 2015)
  • EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion (£26,400 UK Country Coordinator, 2013-2016) see http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/leri_community_summary_-_medway_-_united_kingdom_-_en.pdf
  • RAE Competitive Investment Round Research and Enterprise Investment Programme 2013/14, Barriers and Facilitators to the uptake of immunisation in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities in Kent and South East London (£6,967 Co-Investigator January-July 2014)
  • Health Education Kent Surrey Sussex (HEKSS), Evaluation of LETB/HEKSS Phase 1 and how it is achieving its vision (£56,235 Principal Investigator April 2013-April 2015)

Selected recent publications


Allen, D., Greenfields, M. and Smith, D. (Eds.) Transnational Resilience and Change: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Strategies of Survival and Adaptation, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars (for publication September 2018)

Smith, D., and Greenfields, M., 2013. Gypsies and Travellers in Housing: The decline of nomadism, Bristol: Policy Press

Smith, D., 2005. On the Margins of Inclusion: changing labour markets and social exclusion in London, Bristol: Policy Press (winner 2006 Social Policy Association Prize for ‘Best New Publication’)

Journal Articles last 5 years

Smith, D., and Acton, T., 2017. The campaign for a National Strategy for Gypsy site provision and the role of Public Health activism in the 1960s-1970s, Journal of Public Health Policy, published online 12th September, DOI: 10.1057/s41271-017-0091-y

James, Z., and Smith, D., 2017. Roma inclusion post-Brexit: a challenge to existing rhetoric, Safer Communities: A journal of practice, opinion, policy and research, Vol. 16, Issue 4, published online 28th September, DOI: 10.1108/ SC-06-2017-0022

Newton, D., and Smith, D., 2017. Factors influencing uptake of Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) immunisation in site-dwelling Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities: A qualitative study of GRT parents’ beliefs and experiences, Child: Care, Health and Development published online 7 March: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cch.12453/abstract

La Placa, V., and Smith, D., 2016. The health and wellbeing of Gypsies and Travellers in settled housing: a narrative review of the evidence and policy, International Journal of Social Science Studies, Vol. 4, No. 9 (September), pp. 87-96.

Smith, D., and Newton, P., 2016. Structural barriers to measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisation uptake in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the United Kingdom, Critical Public Health published online 17 July: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2016.1211254.

Stewart, J., Smith, D., and Gritton, J., 2016. A public health history of a forgotten corner of Kent: the Isle of Sheppey, Environmental Health Research Network (EHRN): Occasional Paper No.3 published online: https://ukehrnet.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/the-isle-of-sheppey-a-unique-place/  

Picker, G., Greenfields, M., and Smith, D., 2015. Colonial refractions: The ‘Gypsy camp’ as a spatio-racial technology, City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp. 741-752. 

Smith, D., and Greenfields, M., 2015. Resisting Assimilation: survival and adaptation to ‘alien’ accommodation forms: the case of British Gypsy/Travellers in housing’ Today’s Children Tomorrow’s Parents: an interdisciplinary journal, No.40-41, June, pp.68-81. 

Smith, D., and Ruston, A.M., 2013. If you feel that nobody wants you you’ll withdraw into your own’ Gypsy/Travellers, networks and health care utilisation Sociology of Health and Illness, Vol. 35, Issue 8, pp. 1196-1210

Ruston, A.M., and Smith, D., 2013. Gypsies/Travellers and health: risk categorization versus being ‘at risk, Health, Risk and Society Vol. 15, Issue 2, April, pp. 176-193

Smith, D., and Greenfields, M., 2012. Housed Gypsies and Travellers: ethnicity exclusion and adaptation, Race and Class Vol. 53, No. 3, pp. 48-64

Chapters (last 5 years)

Smith, D., and Moreno, C. 2017. Learning Alliance approaches to working with minority communities on health care innovation, in Craig, G., (ed.) ‘Race’, ethnicity and community development, Bristol: Policy Press.

Moreno, C., Smith, D., and Spigner, C., 2017. Positive Ageing, Positive Dying: intersectional communication in palliative care with minority groups, in Docking, R., and Stock, J., (eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Positive Ageing, London: Routledge. 

Smith, D., 2016. The political context of migration in the UK: the case of Roma Gypsies in 

Zakaria, N. Abdul-Talib, A. and Osman, N. (2016) (eds.) Handbook of Research on the Impacts of International Business and Political Affairs on the Global Economy, Pennsylvania, USA: IGI Global.

Smith, D., 2014. Roma migrants, the EU and the politics of integration in the UK, in Eby Hara, A. and Taya, S. L. (eds.) Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on International Studies (ICIS) 2014: Globalization and Nation States, Malaysia: School of International Studies: Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).

Smith, D., and Greenfields, M., 2014. The wellbeing of Gypsies and Travellers, in Knight, A; La Placa, V., and McNaught, A., (eds.) Wellbeing: Policy and Practice, Cheltenham, Lantern

Smith, D., 2013. The Decline of Nomadism: spatial management and enforced settlement of gypsy/travelers in the UK, in Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme, ISI Conference Proceedings: The Fourth International Conference Psychological-Social Perspectives in the Quasi-Coercive Treatment of Offenders: Social Control and Vulnerable Groups, Medimond International Proceedings.

Recent presentations and conferences

Smith, D. and Newton, P. (2017) ‘Debating the causal role of structure and culture: Gypsy Traveller and Roma parent’s decisions surrounding the MMR vaccination in the UK’, 2017 Annual Conference of the Gypsy Lore Society, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, 30 August-1 September.

Smith, D. and Sidorenko, E. (2017) ‘The impact of Brexit on Polish community members living in London: An exploratory pilot project’, Applied Sociology Research Group: Brexit and Boundaries in the Barrios, University of Greenwich, 26 May.

Smith, D. (2017) ‘Inequalities in access to palliative and end of life care in findings from Learning Alliance in Palliative Care and End of Life (LAPCEL) feasibility study in Medway and Swale’, Working with and for Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people: how to engage in palliative and end of life care services, University of Greenwich LAPCEL conference, 28 April.

James, Z. and Smith, D. (2017) ‘Roma Inclusion Post-Brexit: A challenge to existing rhetoric’ Brexit Criminology: Crime, Justice and Society, University of Plymouth, UK, 5 April. 

Smith, D. (2016) ‘The UK Governments National Strategy for Roma Inclusion and the politics of integration in the UK’ RN31 Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism Mid-Term Conference: European Sociological Association, University of Warsaw, Poland, 1-2 September.

La Placa, V. and Smith, D.  (2016) ‘The Health and Wellbeing of Gypsies and Travellers in Settled Housing’ 3rd International Conference on Humanity and Social Sciences (ICHSS), Rome, Italy, 14-16 July.

Smith, D. and Greenfields, M. (2016) ‘Gypsies, Travellers and working-class formation and identity in London’, How Class Works 2016, State University of New York, USA, 9-11 June.

Smith, D. and Newton, P. (2016) ‘Qualitative Methods and Health: Factors influencing uptake of MMR vaccine in site-dwelling Gypsies and Travellers’ New Perspectives on Researching Social Inequality, Kingston University, London, 5 February.

Smith, D. (2015) ‘Settlement patterns, housing careers and accommodation-related experiences of Roma migrants in the UK’ Communicating with States: “Underprivileged” Migrations within the European Union, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden, 5-6 October.

Smith, D. (2014) ‘Roma migrants, the EU and the Politics of Integration in the UK’ 5th International Conference on International Studies (ICIS), School of International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1-2 December.

Smith, D. (2014) ‘Guy Standing and the Urban Precariat’ ETMU Days conference: Inequalities in Diverse Societies Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism, University of Helsinki, Finland, 23-24 October. 

Greenfields, M. and Smith, D. (2014) ‘Doing it for ourselves: narratives of resistance and resilience among the urban precariat’, ETMU Days conference: Inequalities in Diverse Societies University of Helsinki, Finland, 23-24 October.

Smith, D. and Greenfields, M. (2013) ‘Enforced settlement and urban Gypsy and squatter camps in London and its environs between the mid 19th and mid 20th centuries’ Resourceful Cities 21 Conference 2013: Sociology of Urban and Regional Development International Sociological Association, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, 29-31 August.

Smith, D. (2013) ‘Gypsies, accommodation and social policy’, Social Policy Association Annual 2013 Conference, University of Sheffield, 8-9 July.

Invited and Keynote speaker (last five years)

Smith, D. (2017) ‘Ethnicity, class and social relations in post-Brexit UK: a case study in south east England’, Guest speaker, Department of Social Sciences for Education, University of Minho, Portugal, 13th June. 

Smith, D. (2016) Keynote speaker, International Conference, ‘Preventing Victimisation in Vulnerable Communities’, Institute of National Economy - Romanian Academy and the General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, Bucharest, Romania, 7-9 December.

Smith, D. (2016) Invited Speaker, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion Project end conference, Vienna, Austria 1-2 December.

Smith, D. (2016) Invited Speaker, International Workshop Project PDP4 Integrated Approach for preventing victimization in Roma communities, Romania Ministry of Internal Affairs, Bucharest, Romania, 24-25 March.

Smith, D. (2015) UK Scientific Expert, EU/Interreg IV A Manche’ Programme Action to Generate Inclusion for Residents of migrant background (AGIR) Amiens, France, 23 March.

Smith, D. (2014) UK Scientific Expert, EU/ Interreg IV A ‘Manche’ Programme Action to Generate Inclusion for Residents of migrant background (AGIR) Amiens, France, 6 October.

Smith, D. (2013) Keynote Speaker, Romanian Ministry of Interior/ University of Western Timisiora, Social Control and Vulnerable Groups, Timisoara, Romania, 21-24 April.

Smith, D. (2013) Invited Speaker/ Panel Member at ESRC Seminar Series, Public Services and Gypsy/Travellers, University of Sheffield, 21-22 March.