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 in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Open University and in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Middlesex University.

Research Interests

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

She is involved in two recently completed 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 2.5 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 2.5 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 Co-Editor of Sociology.

Sarah Neal is a 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.


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

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

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

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


Journal articles post 2008

(2015) Sociologies of Everyday Life Special Issue Sociology Edited with Andrew King, Karim Murji, Kath Woodward and Sophie Watson. Vol 49, Issue 5 (In press).

(2015) 'You can’t move in Hackney without bumping into an anthropologist’: Why certain places attract research attention, with G. Mohan, A. Cochrane and K. Bennett, Qualitative Review (In press).

(2015) Urban Multiculture and everyday encounters in semi-public, franchised cafe spaces, with H. Jones, G. Mohan, A. Cochrane and K. Bennett The Sociological Review  (In press)

(2015) Multiculture and public parks: researching super-diversity and attachment in public green space, with K. Bennett, H. Jones, C. Cochrane and G. Mohan, Population, Space and Place DOI:10.1002/psp.1910.

(2014) Race, Community and Conflict fifty years on, Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 38, No 3: 379-385 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2015.975263 .

(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


  • Migration, Identity and Politics of Belonging
  • Qualitative Field Methods
  • MSc dissertations
  • PhD supervision

Departmental Duties

Director of Research, Department of Sociology

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