I joined Manchester Metropolitan University in September 2015 as a Research Associate in the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit. My main strands of work are on extremism/ counter-extremism, and bottom-up social policy, thus continuing previous work in the areas of citizenship, community and third sector policy and extremism.
My PhD research examined the engagement of far-right and radical Islamist activists with wider society in the context of government community cohesion and preventing violent extremism policies. For this I spent time with (as a participant-observer) and conducted biographical interviews with members of the British National Party, al-Muhajiroun, and those 'mainstream' activists and workers who engage with them. I continued this stream of work at the University of Leicester, conducting fieldwork with the EDL, UKIP and other populist-right and far-right groups, and have done similar work with anti-fascist, and anti-racist activists. This has also led onto work looking at the practice of counter-extremism in schools and community settings.
As a second strand of work, I've also been researching the reconfigurations of the welfare state across Europe, as part of the Horizon 2020 funded InnoSI project on Innovative Social Investment. This includes working on some of the cross-Europe studies comparing different systems, as well as fieldwork examining local government commissioned services in the UK.
Recently I've also begun some work on club culture in Stoke. This looks at the parallels between Northern Soul and rave, the connections between Stoke and Detroit/ Chicago, and the contribution music makes to social cohesion.
Since 2006 I have spent most of my time researching far-right and radical Islamist activism (both as a freelance and doctoral researcher). I took a few months out of this to work on Dr Sherilyn MacGregor's New (Good) British Citizen project, funded by the British Academy. I have worked on research projects on regenerating medium-sized cities and parents' attitudes to sustainability and energy use. I joined the University of Leicester in February 2013 as a Research Associate on the EC-funded RAGE project and moved to Manchester Metropolitan University's Policy Evaluation and Research Unit in September 2015. This includes work on 'radicalisation', counter-extremism, online safety, and European social policy innovation.
Between 2004 and 2006 I led one evaluation of a national youth programme - CDF's Neighbourhood Support Fund - and contributed to the evaluation of another - the Home Office's Positive Futures. Both programmes aimed to steer young people away from trouble, with the former focusing on those Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), and the latter focusing more on drugs.
In my Vision 21 and Future Foundation posts I worked on shorter-term research projects, mostly leading them at Vision 21 and assisting at the Future Foundation. Some of the clients and projects are listed below: a link is provided to research reports or summaries in the public domain.
I have taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Keele and Leicester. This has included leading two modules, one for second years and the other for taught postgraduates. I have also been part of teams teaching core and option courses, and have done lectures and seminars for research students and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes.
I have also taught research methods and ethics at undergraduate and postgrad level.
Most of my other research work only exists as 'grey literature'. See Research Projects for a list of some of the projects, with links to reports or summaries of the work.
Other dissemination activity
In addition to the conferences listed above, I have also presented to internal audiences at Keele and elsewhere as part of various seminar programmes. I have also presented my work to the Chief Constable of Staffordshire, and other criminal justice professionals, and appeared on local radio and national TV to talk about political extremism and terrorism.
A long time ago I wrote the first version of the London Cycling Campaign's guide to Leisure Cycling.
I've also had a few letters published in the Guardian. I'd say about 50% of those I've sent in:
What £400,000? (10/12/02)
Taking the rap for gun culture (10/01/03)
Paying the price of debt? (17/10/03)
Warning for the smugs (03/07/04)
Stan's the man [David Beckham] (12/05/05)
Second homes and the housing crisis 08/08/05 10/08/05
Lecturers' Pay (14/03/06)
Now hear this (30/11/06)
A new world of rhymes (22/05/07)
Alcohol, pregnancy and the state (31/05/07)
Citizenship test and British values (05/08/09)