Joel Busher


    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    Social movements; mobilization; political violence; far right; anti-minority politics; counter-terrorism and its societal impacts; policy enactment

    Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

    Research activity per year

    Personal profile


    Joel's research addresses three main areas:

    1) Far right and 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 was 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 and inhibition of political violence

    Joel’s work on anti-minority activism is informed by a wider 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 other social actors.

    More broadly, he has recently co-edited the Routledge Handbook on Radicalisation and Countering Radicalisation.

    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. Alongside this, he has both been involved and undertaken research about the evaluation of P/CVE programmes. Joel's most recent project in this area concerns public perceptions of P/CVE programmes in the Sahel.   


    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; Far right; Counter-terrorism; Violence prevention; 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.

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

    External positions

    Advisory Board Member, DRIVE: Far right and Islamist extremism in North-Western Europe, and the role of social inclusion

    1 Jun 2021 → …

    External Examiner, Handa Centre for the study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews

    1 Oct 2020 → …

    Member: Bank of Experts, UNESCO Chair in Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

    1 Oct 2018 → …

    Associate Editor, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression

    1 Oct 2017 → …


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