Dr Sarah Neal


Qualifications: BA(Hons) , MA , PhD

Phone: Work: 01483 68 3766
Room no: 38 AD 03

Further information


Sarah Neal joined the Department of Sociology in January 2013. She previously worked at the Open University and at Middlesex University.

Research Interests

Sarah Neal’s research interests lie in the following areas and their inter-relationships: ethnicity, race, multiculture; community, belonging and place, rurality and the countryside; social policymaking, inequalities and inclusion.

She is currently involved in two research projects:

Living Multiculture: the new geographies of ethnicity and the changing formations of multiculture in England 
Sarah Neal is the Principal Investigator on this two-year project that began in July 2012. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research. The research team involves Hannah Jones, Kieran Connell, Allan Cochrane and Giles Mohan all based at the Open University and Katy Bennett who is based at Leicester University.

With its focus on the ordinary encounters of superdiverse populations in everyday locations the project asks two key questions: how do people live cultural difference, and what role does place play in this process? There is growing interest as to the ways in which ethnically complex populations routinely interact in convivial and competent ways. Exploring the dynamics and limits of this competency  - and its relationship to places that have long and short histories of multiculture - is at the heart of the research. 

For more project  information visit http://www8.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/living-multiculture/

Children’s and adults’ friendships across social and ethnic difference 
Sarah Neal is a Co-Investigator on this two-year project that began in February 2013. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The research team involves Carol Vincent and Humera Iqbal based at the Institute of Education, University of London.

This project examines adults’ and children’s friendships in London and explores what friendships reveal about the nature and extent of ethnic diversity and social divisions in contemporary multicultural society.  The project explores the friendships adults and children make in and through primary schools. In super-diverse localities, primary schools are places where adults and children from different backgrounds are likely to meet and interact. We are interested in what adults think about their own connections and relations with other parents and their children’s friendships with their peers. The project seeks to understand how these relationships and friendships contribute to parents feeling part of - and taking part in – a school community and in how these experiences of friendship facilitate a broader sense of embedded-ness and belonging to the localities that people live in.

Sarah Neal is a member of Sociology's Editorial Team (with Karim Murji, Sophie Watson and Kath Woodward).

Sarah Neal is an member of the Editorial Board of Ethnic and Racial Studies

Sarah Neal is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Open University and the Institute of Education, University of London.

Her most recent book is Race, Multiculture and Social Policy, co-authored with Alice Bloch and John Solomos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).


Indicative books

(2013) Race, Multiculture and Social Policy in Britain, London: Palgrave, with Alice Bloch and John Solomos ISBN 978-0333749722

(2009) Rural Identities: Ethnicity and Community in the English Countryside. Farnham: Ashgate ISBN 978-0754673064

(2009) Community: Welfare, Crime and Society Maidenhead: McGraw Hill and Open University Press, edited with Gerry Mooney
ISBN 978-0335229345  

(2006) The New Countryside? Ethnicity, Nation and Exclusion in Contemporary Rural Britain, Bristol: The Policy Press, edited with Julian Agyeman ISBN 978-1861347954


Journal articles since 2008

(2013) Multiculture, urban middle class competencies and friendship practices in super-diverse geographies, with C.Vincent, Social and Cultural Geography Vol 14, No 8: 909-929

(2013) Transition Culture: politics, localities and ruralities, Journal of Rural Studies  Issue 32: 60-69

(2013) Living multiculture: understanding the new spatial and social relations of ethnicity and multiculture in England, with K. Bennett, A. Cochrane and G. Mohan, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Issue 2: 308-323

(2012) Crisis social policy and the resilience of the concept of community, with G. Mooney and L. Hancock, Critical Social Policy 32, 3:343-364

(2011) Riot: race and politics in the 2011 disorders, with K. Murji, Sociology Research Online 16, 4.

(2011) Multiculture and community in a new city space, with J. Kesten, A. Cochrane and G. Mohan Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2: 133-150

(2010) ‘Welfare worries’: mapping the directions of welfare futures in the contemporary UK, with G. Mooney, Research, Policy and Planning, 27(3), pp. 141-150.

(2009) Researching Up? Interviews, Emotionality and Policy Making Elites, with E. McLaughlin, Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 38, Issue 04: 689-707

(2008) Rural be/longing: community, conviviality and social organizations in rural England, with S, Walters, Sociology Vol. 42, No. 2: 279-297


  • Qualitative Field Methods
  • MSc dissertations
  • PhD supervision

Departmental Duties

Director of Research

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