Personal profile

Personal information

Peer Smets is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. As an engaged urban sociologist his focus is on societal problems with the aim of finding solutions for better policies and their implementation. In addition, Smets is involved in the Community Service Learning (CSL) program at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in which students are using their academic skills to help solve societal problems to the mutual benefit of both the societal partners and the students/university. In doing so, he links scientific insights with societal impact.


As a PhD-student Smets focused on housing finance and the urban poor in India. His current research deals also with neighborhoods and focuses on livability, use of public space, housing, everyday encounters, belonging, home-making practices, community development, participation, self-help practices, cooperation between stakeholders, and urban commons.

He has co-edited many special journal issues and books. Recent volumes include  New Research on Housing and Territorial Stigma (co-edited with Margarethe Kusenbach), Affordable Housing in the Urban Global South: Seeking Sustainable Solutions (co-edited with J. Bredenoord and P. van Lindert; Earthscan by Routledge), Social Housing and Urban Renewal: A Cross-National Perspective (co-edited with Paul Watt; Emerald), and Contested Belonging: Spaces, Practices , Biographies (co-edited with K. Davis and H. Ghorashi; Emerald).


At the bachelor level, Smets teaches qualitative methods and is coordinator of internships.  At the master level, he developed a course on Influencing Societal Participation (Beïnvloeden van Maatschappelijke Participatie). He also supervises bachelor and master theses about themes such as participation, co-creation, neighbourhood, community development, living together, and housing.  


Over the years Smets received grants for research projects on storytelling and vulnerable people, democracy and participation from the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs, and evaluation of the work of the Public Library Amsterdam (OBA), voluntary work of refugees.  Moreover, The World Bank has funded an in depth study on incremental housing.

Moreover, Smets (together with Kyohee Kim) has been awarded as Sociologist of the Month July 2020 (Current Sociology). 

Ancillary activities

  • Cash2Grow | Amsterdam | bestuurslid | 2018-03-31 - 2025-12-31

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Ancillary activities

  • Editorial board of scientific journal Social Inclusion.
  • Member of International Sociological Association, RC21 on urban and regional development, Nederlandse Sociologisch Vereniging (Ductch Sociological Foundation).
  • Reviewer of many journals dealing with issues of especially urban sociology/ urban studies, and neighbourhood studies.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Academic qualification

Cultural and Social Anthropology , PhD, Housing Finance and the Urban Poor, VU Faculties

Award Date: 25 Apr 2002

Cultural Anthropology and Development of Non-Western Societies, Master, Vrije Universiteit, Universiteit

Award Date: 30 Jun 1992

User created Keywords

  • neighbourhoods
  • public space
  • housing
  • housing finance
  • everyday encounters
  • belonging
  • home-making practices
  • community development
  • participation
  • self-help practices
  • cooperation between stakeholders
  • urban commons


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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