I have worked at Keele since 1991 after completing my PhD at Manchester University (on The Ideology of Green Parties). Prior to this I studied Politics at the Universities of Durham (BA) and Kent (MA).

Research and scholarship

My principal research interest is in the relationship between radical ideas and actions, particularly in environmental movements. My work has therefore covered green parties, local environmental protesters, major NGOs, and environmental direct action in Britain and other countries. I have had funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for projects on UK environmental direct action and on Friends of the Earth International and from the Environment Agency for projects on local environmental campaigns in the UK.

My most recent book (with Tim Doyle - Keele and Adelaide) is a study of the internal politics of Friends of the Earth International. We carried out a three year study of FoEI, funded by the ESRC. This included a survey of its member organisations, observation of key meetings and analysis of its internal debates.  The research concentrates on the sometimes contentious relations between Northern and Southern member organisations of FoEI. We were fortunate to be able to do the research while FoEI was developing a strategic plan following political differences that had caused divisions in previous years. We argue that FoEI has developed a particularly productive form of solidarity which enables its members to work together despite their differences, and that the complex processes that create solidarity in transnational networks and organisations, while little appreciated or studied, are of great significance in showing how common action can be sustained transnationally.


I am currently the co-ordinator of the following modules:

Why Politics Matters (Politics, Level 1)

This aims to introduce students to the normative and contestable aspects of politics. It is taught by a team of SPIRE colleagues and covers the nature of politics, democracy, dissent, violence and terror, power, inequality and political disenchantment and political ideologies.

Power to the People: Understanding the Origins of Modern Western Politics (Politics Level 2)

Examines the major social changes that have shaped politics such as the emergence of capitalism, national identities, democratization, protest and political violence and grassroots movements. We focus on Britain, France, Germany and the USA.

Protest and Social Movements (Level 3)

Covers the debates about the role of protest in current democratic politics, the effects of the state on mobilization, activist cultures and identity, movements against authoritarian regimes, and trans-national movements – with reference to theories of social movements or normative theories of political dissent.

Dimensions of Environmental Politics (MA)

This is a team-taught module which offers a broad overview of environmental politics covering political theory, policy, international relations and political sociology.

Environmental Movements: North and South (MA)

This module fits closely with my main research. We look at environmental movements past and present – from a thematic perspective, examining the comparative impacts of political systems on environmental movements; the bureaucratic pressures on large environmental NGOs; the culture of local environmental campaigns; direct action protesters; radical environmentalism in the global South, how transnational environmental networks manage their differences; the heroes and villains of green movement history and whether we are now seeing the 'end of environmentalism'.

Further information


  • Co-editor of Social Movement Studies 2005-12 (Managing Editor 2006 – 2010), now Consulting Editor, and a member of the Editorial Board since 2001.
  • Book Reviews Editor of Environmental Politics from 1996 until 2003 and  a member of the Editorial Board since 1992.
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Sociology Compass (Social Movements section) 2007-13.
  • Co-Editor of a series of biographies of left-activists called Revolutionary Lives for Pluto Press 2009-13.

External Examining

  • University of Kent, 2007-10 BA Environmental Social Science; MA in Political Sociology and Msc Environmental Social Science
  • Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, 1996-2000 MA in the Politics of Democracy,
  • Research Degrees: Sheffield University, Bristol University, University of Paisley; Newcastle University, University of Kent, University of Manchester, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of East Anglia, European University Institute, University of Cambridge.


PhD Supervision

I am particularly keen to supervise students working on any area of the study of social movements and protest, broadly defined; ideologies, and political activism.

Since 1998, I have supervised 7 PhDs and two MPhils. All completed their projects successfully.

  • Darren Hoad ‘Governance and Participation in Local Environmental Campaigns: Manchester and Amsterdam’ (MPhil).
  • Kasumi Ozawa ‘Political Dimensions in the Philosophy of the New Paradigm’ (MPhil).
  • Ben Seel ‘Strategy, Identity and Counter-Hegemony in British Environmental Groups’ (PhD).
  • Iosif Botetzagias, ‘A Network Analysis of the Greek Environment Movement,’ (PhD)
  • Steve Roberts ‘Prometheus Bound: A Materialist Critique of Science, Technology and Environmentalism’ (PhD).
  • Darrell Whitman, ‘The Political Shaping of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: A Critical Enquiry into the Politics of Climate Science’ (PhD).
  • Philip Burton-Cartledge ‘A Reflexive and Value-Added Analysis of Contemporary Trotskyist Activism in Britain' (PhD, ESRC funded).
  • Glenn Flint ‘ Otpor and Political Aesthetics’ (PhD).
  • Jon Cope 'Constructions of Neo-Liberal Hegemony' (PhD).

Current PhD Students:

Carys Hughes (Keele Graduate Teaching Assistant 2011-2014): ‘The Use of A-Legal Space.’

Prospective Students

Please feel free to contact me by email with an outline research proposal. This should include

  • Your research question – clearly identified.
  • How you propose to answer this question. What theoretical and/or empirical work do you expect to undertake (e.g. case studies)?
  • How your research project relates to relevant academic debates or literatures on movements, activism or protest? What likely contribution do you expect to make to such debates or literatures?
  • What research methodology do you expect to employ in your project?

Keele provides funding for PhDs through its annual studentship competition.

Further information is available about studying in SPIRE, including funding available for pursuing a doctoral research degree.

School of Social Sciences
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Keele University
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Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346

Undergraduate and postgraduate enquiries
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346