Dr. Peter T. Robbins


Lecturer in Development Studies - Genomics

Development Policy and Practice

Faculty of Technology
Open University
Milton Keynes

Telephone: +44 (0) 1908-653422

Fax: +44 (0) 1908-654285


Background and Research Interests

Peter Robbins obtained a BS in psychology from Guilford College (USA), followed by an MSc and PhD in sociology from the London School of Economics. After having taught sociology at the University of Reading, and in the Institute of Water & Environment at Cranfield University, Peter joined Development Policy and Practice (DPP) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (INNOGEN) in October 2004. Peter's expertise is in three main areas, which are connected by his interest in studying global economic and natural resource questions using a social constructivist approach.

The first concerns transnational corporations’ (TNCs) responses to environmental challenges. In particular he focuses on corporate cultures (traditional and social-environmental), green management styles, environmental regulatory systems (North America, Europe and Asia compared), and social auditing. They are explored in his book Greening the Corporation (London, Earthscan, 2001).

Related to, and building on this work, Peter’s second area of interest is in science and technology studies. He has completed two ESRC funded projects with linguists at the University of Reading. The first (R000223725), from 2001 to 2002, examined the discursive strategies of genetic modification (GM) scientists and the extent to which these convinced or antagonized non-experts. The second (RES000220132), between 2003 and 2004, investigated the GM National Debate, exploring attitudes of publics to GM decision making, especially in relation to the democratization of science and technology.

Peter’s third area of interest, which links with the previous two, is the sociology of development. In particular, he is interested in processes of socio-economic change, sustainability and participation. His course guide Sociology of Development (London, University of London Press, 2001) covers many of these themes. He has conducted ethnographic field research in Ethiopia, Tanzania and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Peter has been Lead Examiner for Sociology of Development at the University of London External Programme, London School of Economics, since 2000.

Selected Publications

Robbins, PT (2004) ‘Global Visions and Globalizing Corporations: An Analysis of Images and Texts from Fortune Global 500 Companies’, Sociological Research Online, 9(2) http://www.socresonline.org.uk/9/2/robbins.html.

Cook, G, Robbins, PT, and Pieri, E (2004) The Discourse of the GM Food Debate: how language choices affect public trust, End of Award Report RES000220132, Swindon, Economic and Social Research Council (Available at http://www.regard.ac.uk/research_findings/RES-000-22-0132/report.pdf  and through the British Library).

Cook, G, Pieri, E, and Robbins, PT (2004) ‘"The Scientists Think and the Public Feels": Expert Perceptions of the Discourse of GM Food’, Discourse & Society, 15(2) 433-449.

Robbins, PT, Pieri, E, and Cook, G (2004) ‘GM Scientists and the Politics of the Risk Society’, in Haugestad, A. and JD Wulfhorst, eds. Future as Fairness, Amsterdam and New York, Rodopi.

Robbins, PT (2004) ‘Sociology of Development’ in Forsyth, T., ed. Encyclopedia of International Development, London, Routledge.

Robbins, PT (2003) ‘Transnational Corporations and the Discourse of Water Privatization’, Journal of International Development, 15: 1073-1082.

Cook, G and Robbins, PT (2003) The Presentation of GM Crop Research to Non-Specialists: A Case Study, End of Award Report R000223725, Swindon, Economic and Social Research Council (Available at http://www.regard.ac.uk/research_findings/R000223725/report.pdf and through the British Library).

Sklair, L and Robbins, PT (2002) ‘Global Capitalism and Major Corporations from the Third World’, Third World Quarterly, 23(1): 81-100.

Robbins, PT (2001) Greening the Corporation, London, Earthscan.

Robbins, PT (2001) Sociology of Development, London, University of London Press.

These pages are the personal responsibility of Peter T. Robbins. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the Open University. The University takes no responsibility for any material on these pages.