Photo of Joel Busher

Joel Busher

Dr

    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    Social movements; mobilization; dynamics of political violence; counter-terrorism and its societal impacts

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    20102021

    Research activity per year

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    Personal profile

    Biography

    Joel's research addresses three main intersecting areas:

    1) Anti-minority activism

    Joel's initial work in this area comprised an ethnographic analysis of anti-Muslim activism, resulting in his monograph The Making of Anti-Muslim Protest: Grassroots Activism in the English Defence League (Routledge), for which he was awarded the British Sociological Association’s Philip Abrams Memorial Prize, 2016. His research here addresses questions about how and why people become involved in anti-minority activism; what sustains, energises or undermines such activism, and how it evolves through interaction with other actors.

    He has subsequently carried out mixed-methods research on how anti-minority activism gains traction in different local areas; theoretical and empirical work on processes of 'cumulative extremism' or 'interactive escalation'; is joint editor of the volume, Researching the Far Right: Theory, Method and Practice, (Routledge); and is currently PI on a project that examines the pathways towards and away from violence during periods of heightened activity by organised anti-minority groups, funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST).

    2) The escalation, de-escalation and non-escalation of political violence

    Joel’s work on anti-minority activism is also informed by a wider theoretical and empirical interest in the social ecology of political violence. Here, Joel has recently led a project on the 'Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation', also funded by CREST, and continues to undertake research on processes of restraint within militant groups. He has also undertaken research on the conceptualisation of radical groups and their intersections with one another and with the so-called mainstream.

    3) The implementation of counter-terrorism policy and its societal impacts

    Joel has led research on the interpretation and enactment of the Prevent duty in schools and colleges. This research, funded by the Aziz Foundation, gave rise in 2017 to the first major public report on this topic. He has presented on this research to a range of national and international academic and policy practitioner audiences. He is currently working with a network of local authorities across the UK to explore how they respond to, interpret and implement counter-terrorism and counter-extremism policy. He is also about to begin a project, funded by the British Academy, that examines the impacts of the UK’s deradicalisation ‘Channel’ programme on former mentees.

     

    Running through all his work is a broader empirical and theoretical interest in the processes of mobilization, collective action and social control and how these intersect with the everyday efforts of human beings to live what they consider to be good lives. As well as generating research publications, Joel’s research has led to frequent and on going engagement with policy and practitioner communities at local, national and international levels.

    Joel joined CTPSR in 2014. Prior to joining CTPSR, he held post-doctoral fellowships at Huddersfield University and the University of East London, and worked as an analyst for the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL). He holds a PhD in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Philosophy and Italian from The University of Edinburgh. He is a fluent Spanish speaker.

    Research Interests

    Social movements; Mobilization; Political violence; Anti-minority activism; Counter-terrorism; National and transnational identities; Policy enactment; Mixed methods

    Vision Statement

    The broad aim of my research is to document and enhance understanding of how human interaction – the rituals that shape and comprise our everyday lives; the cognitive and moral orders that we make, break and patch together again; and the emotional rhythms of our lives – gives rise to or undermines harmonious social relations and human well-being.

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