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Portrait of Professor Paul Thomas Professor Paul Thomas | 01484 478267


Qualifications: PhD; Dip. HE Youth and Community Work; BA (Hons); FHEA

I am Professor of Youth and Policy and Director of Research for the School of Education and Professional Development at the University of Huddersfield, where I have worked since 1999.

I am a professionally qualified youth and community worker. Prior to joining the University, I worked as a regional manager for a national voluntary youth work organisation and as a regional youth policy and campaigns officer for the government’s Commission for Racial Equality. Since joining the School of Education and Professional Development, I have contributed to sociology and social policy teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, to the professional development of our Youth and Community Work students and have been actively involved in research. My research focuses mainly on state policies around young people and multiculturalism, racism, community cohesion, and the prevention of extremism, and particularly on how ground-level policy-makers and practitioners mediate and enact such state policy agendas.

I have developed my research through a number of past and present funded projects created in collaboration with local government bodies in the north of England, with the research findings creating impact by influencing national and regional policy and practice.Most recently, I was Principal Investigator (PI) on an action research project around implementation of community cohesion policies in Kirklees, West Yorkshire and co-PI on a mixed methods investigation of attitudes and dispositions within mainly white, marginalised communities in both Kirklees and Calderdale. I have previously been PI on a Prevent-funded action research project into young people’s feelings about ‘identity’, cohesion and segregation in Rochdale, Greater Manchester and on an evaluation of the first year of Prevent activity in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.

I have published two full-length books based on this research.’Youth, Multiculturalism and Community Cohesion’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) was shortlisted for the British Sociological Association’s 2012 Phillip Abrams Memorial Prize, and ‘Responding to the Threat of Violent Extremism –Failing to Prevent’ was published by Bloomsbury Aacdemic in 2012. I have also had articles published in leading peer-reviewed journals such as ‘Sociology’, ‘Critical Social Policy’, ‘The Journal of Youth Studies’ and the ‘British Journal of Politics and International Relations’. Additionally, in 2009 I was invited to give evidence at Westminster to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry hearing on Prevent, and I have appeared on BBC 2 TV’s ‘Newsnight’ and BBC Radio 4’s ‘Analysis’ to discuss my research, alongside contributions to a number of national newspaper and magazine articles.

Research and Scholarship

I am currently Joint-Principal Investigator (along with Professor Pete Sanderson and Dr. Shamim Miah) for research investigating attitudes of Muslim parents towards local schooling and school choices in Kirklees (2015/16).

I was recently PI on a local authority-funded action research project around community perceptions of community cohesion and of the impacts of policy work around cohesion in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.This work involved key front-line staff, supported by myself and my colleague Professor Pete Sanderson, carrying out qualitative research activity during their normal work operation into feelings and perceptions within local communities, an exercise that was carried out at regular intervals over an 18 month period. (2013/15).

I was also Joint PI (with Dr. Joel Busher, then-School of Human and Health Sciences) on a project funded by Kirklees and Calderdale local authorites that investigated feelings and dispositions towards ethnic diversity and community in mainly white, marginalised areas.This was a mixed methods project, involving household surveys, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. (2013/14).

I am currently working with Professor Ted Cantle (ICOCO) to provide funded consultancy to and advocacy for The Think Project,a South Wales-based anti-extremism educational project that targets their work particularly at young people vulnerable to far-right racist ideologies and organisations that promote it (2013/15).

I continue to research and write about state policy attempts to promote community cohesion and integration and about the Prevent counter-terrorism policy agenda, as well as about Youth Work in general.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Thomas, P., Busher, J., Macklin, G., Rogerson, M. and Christmann, K. (2015) ‘Understanding Concerns about Community RelationsIdentity papers: A journal of British and Irish studies , 1 (1), pp. 67-78. ISSN 2058-6205

Thomas, P., Rogerson, M., Macklin, G., Christmann, K. and Busher, J. (2015) Understanding Concerns about Community Relations in Kirklees Huddersfield: Univesrity of Huddersfield

Busher, J., Christmann, K., Macklin, G., Rogerson, M. and Thomas, P. (2015) Understanding Concerns about Community Relations in Calderdale Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield

Ashmore, L., Avis, J., Dalton, J., Noel, P., Rennie, S., Salter, E., Swindells, D. and Thomas, P. (2015) ‘Equality and diversity’. In: Teaching in lifelong learning : a guide to theory and practice. : Open University Press. . ISBN 9780335263325

Sanderson, P. and Thomas, P. (2015) Kirklees Community Cohesion Action Research: Interim Report Huddersfield, UK: University of Huddersfield (Unpublished)


Thomas, P (2014) ‘Divorced but still co-habiting? Britain’s Prevent/Community Cohesion policy tensionBritish Politics , 9 (4), pp. 472-493. ISSN 1746918X

Thomas, P (2014) ‘Britain’s Prevent Programme: An End in Sight?’. In: Critical Perspectives on Counter Terrorism. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 169-186. ISBN 978-0-415-85547-1

Thomas, P (2014) ‘Prevent and Community Cohesion in Britain – The Worst of All Possible Worlds?’. In: Counter Radicalisation - Critical Perspectives. London, UK: Routledge. . ISBN 978-1-13-877663-0

Sanderson, P. and Thomas, P. (2014) ‘Troubling identities: race, place and positionality among young people in two towns in Northern EnglandJournal of Youth Studies , 17 (9), pp. 1168-1186. ISSN 1367-6261

Thomas, P (2014) ‘Local Passion, National Indifference: Implementing Community Cohesion policies in Northern England’. In: IMISCOE 11th Annual Conference 'Immigration, Social Cohesion and Social Innovation, 28-29th August 2014, Madrid, Spain

Thomas, P (2014) ‘Attitudes and Dispositions within Marginalised White Communities: Implications for Policy and Practice’. In: Understanding and Tackling Far-Right Cultures in Britain and Europe', 27th June 2014, University of Northampton, UK

Cantle, T. and Thomas, P. (2014) Taking the Think Project Forward - The Need for Preventative Anti-Extremism Educational Work Swansea: The Think Project

Thomas, P (2014) ‘Book Review of Ethnic Diversity and Social Cohesion: Immigration, Ethnic Fractionalisation and Potentials for Civic Action by Merlin Schaeffer, Farnham: Ashgate, xi +pp.180, £60 (hardback) ISBN 978-1409469384Ethnic and Racial Studies . ISSN 0141-9870


Thomas, P (2013) ‘Book Review:'Young Muslims, Pedagogy and Islam' by M.G.Khan (2012) Bristol:Policy PressYouth and Policy Journal (111), pp. 102-104. ISSN 0262-9798

Thomas, P (2013) ‘Enacting the Unenactable - The Local State and Britain's Prevent Programme’. In: European experiences of radicalisation and counter-radicalisation - critical approaches, 25th October, 2013, Sciences Po, Paris, France

Thomas, P (2013) ‘Prevent - The need for Engagement with 'White Communities'’. In: Wales Conference on Young People and Far-Right Extremism, 22nd October, 2013, Welsh Assembly, Cardiff

Thomas, P (2013) ‘Prevent- the securitisation of Youth Work practice?’. In: British Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2013, 3-5 September 2013, Brighton, UK

Thomas, P (2013) ‘The Silent Majority? White People, Multiculturalism and the challenge of ‘Englishness’ ’. In: British Sociological Association Annual Conference, 3-5 April 2013, London

Thomas, P. and Sanderson, P. (2013) ‘Crossing the Line ? White young people and Community CohesionCritical Social Policy , 33 (1), pp. 160-180. ISSN 0261-0183


Thomas, P (2012) ‘Prevent and Community Cohesion – Synergy or Conflict?’. In: British International Studies Association 'Critical Terrorism Studies' Working Group Conference, 6th September 2012, Kings College, London

Thomas, P (2012) Responding to the Threat of Violent Extremism - Failing to Prevent . London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781849665254

Thomas, P (2012) ‘Community Cohesion and the ‘death of multiculturalism’ in Britain: evidence from Oldham’. In: CRONEM Conference:The Future of Multiculturalism: Structures, Integration Policies and Practices, 26th-27th June 2012, University of Surrey, UK

Thomas, P (2012) ‘Book Review of The new imagined community. Global media and the construction of national and Muslim identities of migrants, by Uriya Shavit, Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-84519-3287National identities , 14 (2), pp. 189-206. ISSN 1460-8944

Sanderson, P. and Thomas, P. (2012) ‘Community cohesion and spatial-cultural trajectories: influences on youth identification in Northern English TownsEthnicities . ISSN 1468-7968

Thomas, P (2012) ‘All White? Englishness, ‘Race’ and Ethnic Identities In ‘These Englands: A conversation on national identity’ Edited by Arthur Aughey and Christine Berberich, Manchester: Manchester University Press ’. In: These Englands: A conversation on national identity’. Manchester: Manchester University Press. . ISBN 9780719079610


Thomas, P. and Sanderson, P. (2011) ‘Unwilling Citizens? Muslim young people and national identitySociology , 45 (6), pp. 1028-1044. ISSN 0038-0385

McAuley, J., Ward, P., Thomas, P., Mycock, A., Matthews, J., McGlynn, C., Hayton, R. and Webster, W. (2011) ‘Academy for British and Irish Studies, 2011’. In: Academy for British and Irish Studies (relaunch), December 2011, University of Huddersfield

Thomas, P (2011) ‘Proving our Worth? Youth Work, 'Race' and EvidenceYouth and Policy , 107, pp. 18-33. ISSN 0262-9798

Thomas, P (2011) Youth, Multiculturalism and Community Cohesion . Palgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230251953

Thomas, P (2011) ‘Multiculturalism and the emergence of ‘community cohesion’’. In: Redefining social justice: New Labour, rhetoric and reality. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. . ISBN 9780719082207

Thomas, P. and Henri, T. (2011) ‘Changing directions: young people and effective work against racismJournal of Youth Studies , 14 (1), pp. 77-89. ISSN 1367-6261


Thomas, P (2010) ‘Marching Altogether? Football fans taking a stand against racism’. In: Sport and Challenges to Racism. : Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 185-198. ISBN 9780230236158

Monro, S., Razaq, U., Thomas, P. and Mycock, A. (2010) Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (RIEP) Community Cohesion and Prevent Pilot. A report prepared for: Local Government Yorkshire & Humber Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield

Thomas, P (2010) ‘Failed and Friendless: The UK's ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ ProgrammeThe British Journal of Politics & International Relations , 12 (3), pp. 442-458. ISSN 1467856X

Thomas, P. and Sanderson, P. (2010) ‘Unwilling Citizens? Muslim Youth and national identity’. In: British Sociological Association Conference, 7th-9th April 2010, Glasgow

Thomas, P (2010) ‘Book review : Mixed up kids, race, identity and social order. Author, Tina Patel, Russell House Publishing: 2008 Youth and Policy , 104, pp. 134-136. ISSN 0262-9798

Thomas, P (2010) ‘Is multiculturalism dead?’. In: What do teachers and teacher educators need? SUNCETT Spring Conference, 22nd March 2010, University of Sunderland

Thomas, P (2010) ‘Youth Work responses to prejudice and extremism’. In: Rochdale youth service staff conference, 2nd March 2010, Rochdale

Thomas, P (2010) ‘Youth identities and the threat of extremism’. In: SEPD Seminar, 5th February 2010, University of Huddersfield

Ashmore, L., Dalton, J., Noel, P., Rennie, S., Salter, E., Swindells, D. and Thomas, P. (2010) ‘Equality and Diversity ’. In: Teaching in Lifelong Learning: A Guide to Theory and Practice. Milton Keynes: Open University Press/McGraw Hill Education. pp. 58-76. ISBN 9780335234684


Thomas, P (2009) ‘Community cohesion, the ‘death of multiculturalism’ and work with young people’. In: Europe's Established and Emerging Immigrant Communities: assimilation, multiculturalism or integration. Stoke-On-Trent: Trentham Books. . ISBN 9781858564661

Thomas, P (2009) ‘Community cohesion and the death of multiculturalism’. In: ‘Race’ and Racism in the North East: From Theory to Practice, 30th October 2009, University of Sunderland

Thomas, P (2009) Submission to the Communities and Local Government Committee in response to the call for evidence around the Government’s ‘Prevent’ programme: September 2009 House of Commons (Unpublished)

Thomas, P (2009) ‘From petrol bombs to performance indicators: The 2001 riots and the emergence of Community Cohesion ’. In: Rioting in the UK and France: A comparative analysis. Uffculme: Willan Publishing. .

Thomas, P (2009) ‘Between two stools? the government's 'Preventing Violent Extremism' agendaThe Political Quarterly , 80 (2), pp. 282-291. ISSN 0032-3179

Henri, T. and Thomas, P. (2009) ‘Young People, Community Cohesion and the ‘Death of Multiculturalism’’. In: Race in the Modern World: An international conference on race discourses and contemporary identities, 1st - 3rd April 2009, Goldsmiths, University of London and the Stephen Lawrence Trust, London, UK

Thomas, P (2009) ‘The Last Britons? Young Muslims and national identity’. In: 59th Political Studies Association Annual Conference: Challenges for Democracy in a Global Era, 7th - 9th April 2009, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Thomas, P. and Sanderson, P. (2009) The Oldham and Rochdale Youth Identity Project Huddersfield, UK: University of Huddersfield

Thomas, P (2009) ‘Moving on from 'anti-racism'? Understandings of 'Community Cohesion' held by Youth Workers ’. In: Issues in post-compulsory education and training: critical perspectives. Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield. pp. 263-287. ISBN 9781862180680


Thomas, P (2008) Kirklees ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ Pathfinder: Issues and Learning from the First Year University of Huddersfield


Thomas, P (2007) ‘The impact of community cohesion on youth work ’. In: Leading work with young people. : Sage. pp. 109-124. ISBN 9781412946032

Thomas, P (2007) ‘Moving on from ‘anti-racism’? Understandings of ‘community cohesion’ held by youth workersJournal of Social Policy , 36 (3), pp. 435-455. ISSN 0047-2794

Thomas, P (2007) ‘The impact of community cohesion on youth work’. In: Leading Work with Young People. London: Sage/Open University. pp. 109-123. ISBN 9781412946049

Thomas, P (2007) ‘From petrol bombs to performance indicators: the 2001 riots and the emergence of 'community cohesion' in the UK ’. In: A Comparative Analysis of Recent French and British Riots, 24 October 2007, Birmingham

Thomas, P (2007) ‘Community cohesion, the ‘’Death of Multiculturalism’’ and work with young people’. In: Europe and its Established & Emerging Immigrant Communities conference: Assimilation, Multiculturalism or Integration?, 10 - 11 November 2007, De Montfort University, Leicester


Thomas, P (2006) ‘The impact of community cohesion on youth work: A case study from OldhamYouth and Policy (93), pp. 41-60. ISSN 0262-9798


Thomas, P (2004) ‘Anti-racist work with white young people’. In: Commission for racial equality/Oldham race equality partnership seminar, February 2004, Oldham


Thomas, P (2003) ‘Young people, community cohesion and the role of youth work in building social capitalYouth and Policy (81), pp. 21-43. ISSN 0262-9798

Thomas, P. and Pearson, M. (2003) Towards a Youth Work Agenda : A Research report on youth theatres and Connexions University of Huddersfield


Thomas, P (2002) ‘Youth work, racist behaviour and young people Education or blame?Scottish Youth Issues Journal (4), pp. 49-66. ISSN 1469-0780


Thomas, P (1999) Open talk, open minds: anti-racist education for young people London: Commission for Racial Equality


Thomas, P (1995) ‘Kicking racism out of football: a supporter's view Race and Class , 36 (4), pp. 95-100. ISSN 0306-3968


  • Invited keynote Speaker at  ‘Islamic Extremism: Prevention and De-Radicalisation between expectations and realities’, Frankfurt (Goethe)  University Research Centre on Global Islam, Germany, 3rd July 2015.
  • Panel discussant for Westminster Faith Debates on ‘What Should Schools Do about Radicalisation?’ (London, 1st July, 2015) and ‘Social Cohesion – Lessons from the Pennines’ (Bradford, 10th June 2015).
  • Invited keynote speaker at EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Prevent ‘Holding difficult conversations: Empowering educators and schools’ conference, Manchester 3rd March 2015.
  • Invited Keynote presentation: ‘Understanding attitudes and dispositions in marginalised white communities’ at Understanding and Tackling Far-Right Cultures in Britain and Europe Conference, University of Northampton, June 2014.
  • Quoted in Financial Times articles on Prevent, February 2010 and June 2011 and Guardian article on anti-extremism educational work, May 2014.
  • Keynote speaker at House of Commons Reception in support of The Think Project’s anti-extremism education work, March 2014.
  • Keynote speaker at ‘Wales Conference on Young People and Far-Right Extremism’, Welsh Assembly, Cardiff, October 2013.
  • Invited presenter at ‘European experiences of radicalisation and counter-radicalisation – critical perspectives’ seminar, Sciences Po, Paris, October 2013.
  • Participant in invitation-only Breakfast meeting on ’Mediating Values, Tackling Extremism:Civic approaches for a more cohesive society’ with Lord Carlisle of Berriew (former Government watchdog on Terrorism), London: February, 2013.
  • Joint-Chair of the Kirklees Youth Commission, 2012/13.
  • Shortlisted for British Sociological Association’s Phillip Abrams Memorial Prize 2012 for best first, sole-authored book.
  • Invited Keynote presentation: Prevent and Community Cohesion – Synergy or Conflict? British International Studies Association Critical Terrorism Studies Working Group conference, King’s College, London: September 2012.
  • Invited Keynote presentation: ‘Community Cohesion and the ‘death of multiculturalism’ in Britain: Evidence from Oldham’ at CRONEM Conference, University of Surrey, June 2012.
  • Live studio discussant on BBC 2 TV’s ‘Newsnight’ to discuss 10th anniversary of Oldham riots, May 2011.
  • Interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s ‘Analysis’ programme on British multiculturalism and extremism, March 2011.
  • Invited to give oral evidence to House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry hearings on Prevent at Westminster, December 2009.
  • Member of British delegation to ESRC Anglo-French workshop series on ‘Comparative experiences of urban riots’, 2006/7.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Research Degree Supervision

I am interested in supervising research degrees around the following areas:

  • Multiculturalism and state policy approaches
  • Ethnic segregation, Integration and Community Cohesion
  • Terrorism, political extremism and approaches to prevention
  • Ethnicity, Identity, marginalisation and young people
  • Youth Work policy and practice
  • Marginalised young people

Completed research thesis supervisions:

  • Miah, S.  ‘Muslim discourses of education and schooling’ (PhD, June 2012).
  • Ellis, R. ‘The apparent under-representation of white working class men in Higher Education ( Masters By Research, January 2015).

Current research thesis supervisions:

  • Daniels, C. ‘Surfing the Edge of Chaos: Professional Identity Constructs of Children’s Service Leaders in the Context of the Agency-Structure Nexus’ (PhD).
  • Ngara, L. ‘An Ethnographic Investigation into the Causes and Effects of Disaffection and Social Exclusion for Young People in Alternative Education’ (PhD).
  • Boyd, L. ‘Youth Work’s contribution to ‘employability’ ‘ (PhD).
  • Hussain, A. Further education experiences of young British males of Pakistani origin – expectations and outcomes (EdD).
  • Howard, B. ‘The contribution of Youth Work to young people with Mental Health issues’ (Masters by Research).


Enterprise Activities

I am currently acting as an external adviser/consultant (along with Professor Ted Cantle of the Institute of Community Cohesion) to the Big Lottery Fund-supported ‘Think Project’ run by the Ethnic Youth Support Team, based in Swansea, South Wales. (2013-15).

Teaching and Professional Activities

Undergraduate Framework

Level 1: Self, Society and Welfare

Level 2: Social Policy and Inclusion

Level 3: Dissertation


Inequality, Inclusion and Critical Social Policy (Module Leader: PG. Dip Professional Studies – Youth Work/Guidance)

I also carry out work-based learning placement visits for Youth and Community Work students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Last updated Monday 12 October 2015
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