Construction Management and Economics Special Issue Call for Papers

Refiguring Global Construction Challenges through Ethnography

Construction Management and Economics

This special issue intends to open up a new interdisciplinary dialogue in construction management research by bringing together the work of critical researchers who approach construction-related phenomena through ethnography. We welcome contributions both from researchers who have pioneered new approaches in construction industry debates as well as from those who do not usually publish in forums that specifically address the industry - from anthropology, sociology, human geography and cognate disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields. Our intention is to bring this work to the fore, and to engage the insights it brings to advance thinking in both theoretical and applied construction industry research and interventions. We are also keen to consider the implications of this special issue for highlighting the important theoretical and empirical questions that future critical and ethnographic research in this field should engage in.

Construction, in its different manifestations globally, poses distinct challenges and opportunities for ethnography, and also overlaps with a range of different existing research agendas. These include but are not exclusive to fields of studies in migration, mobility and the transnational, infrastructure studies, safety research, urban planning, land activism, work and organisation studies, and digital and media anthropology and sociology. We welcome contributions that connect research into construction with any of these fields, as well as to others.

There has been a burgeoning growth in the use of ethnographic methods in construction management research in recent years, which to a certain extent has been pulled together through our own efforts (see Pink et al, 2012). Yet, arguably the intellectual framework of inquiry has been set too narrowly until now, with the ethnographic endeavour in CM concerned with “how these methods embrace the construction issues facing construction researchers... to enable the construction industry to effectively function in the future” (Phelps and Horman, 2010, italics added). While recent work, particularly that developed by the editors of this proposed special issue and their colleagues, has started to make new advances in construction industry research through ethnographic practice and theory, further work is needed to consolidate this field of research, and to raise its profile both in the construction industry context and as an important field of interdisciplinary debate for other disciplines.

We are also interested in seeking contributions to this special issue that represent pertinent topics that have tended to be neglected by construction management researchers. For instance: ethnographic studies of the informal construction sector which has emerged as part of a global trend for the deregulation of construction labour markets and greater casualization of the labour force; examples of how global processes and conflicts in construction are enacted and negotiated in everyday life; the meaning of construction in the context of domestic house building and the relationships that occur around this; and research into how worker rights, welfare issues and class, ethnic, racial and gendered identities are politically produced and contested; and ethnographies of how those who are implicated by construction projects – such as local residents, activists and the families of construction workers are impacted by and how they might contest, accommodate or welcome the effects of construction projects.

We also encourage articles that use and comment on innovation in the design of ethnographic methodologies to attend to the peculiarities of the construction sector and its project based nature.

Author guidelines

Papers should normally be 4,000-10,000 words in length. This issue also encourages longer, more discursive papers, referred to as Extended Papers, where it particularly benefits the contribution. The call is open and competitive, and all papers will be subject to the normal double-blind peer review process. Notes are also welcome and are refereed, and they should not normally exceed 2,000 words. Further guidance and information for authors can be found at the following web address:

The Guest Editors for the Special Issue are happy to discuss ideas for papers. If you would like further information or wish to discuss an idea, please contact Dr Dylan Tutt or Prof Sarah Pink.

Special Issue Schedule

  • First draft submissions: 1st June 2017
  • Decision with referee comments: 1st September 2017
  • Revised papers: 1st December 2017
  • Final submission and final edits: 1st February 2018
  • Publication: May 2018


Phelps, A.F. and Horman, M.J. (2010) “Ethnographic theory-building research in construction”. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 136 (1): 58–65.

Pink, S., Tutt, D., Dainty, A. (2012) Ethnographic Research in the Construction Industry. London: Routledge.

Editorial information