Image of Sarah NealProfessor Sarah Neal

Professor of Sociology

(BA, MA, PhD)

Telephone: 0114 222 6424 (external), 26424 (internal)
Room: Elmfield, 1.55


Sarah joined the Department of Sociological Studies in 2016, having previously worked at Middlesex University, the Open University and the University of Surrey.

Sarah is Co-Editor of the International Sociological Association journal Current Sociology and she is a member of the Editorial Board of Ethnic and Racial Studies.


Sarah’s research interests and publications are focused on the following areas and their intersections: ethnicity, race and multiculture; community, belonging and in/exclusion; rural and urban spaces; quotidian social life; sociology of policy processes and qualitative methods. Her work on rural identities was funded by The Leverhulme Trust and her work on urban multiculture by the Economic and Social Research Council. Sarah has most recently has been involved in the following two research projects:

Living Multiculture: the new geographies of ethnicity and the changing formations of multiculture in England
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/J007676/1)
Sarah was the Principal Investigator on this two-year project (July 2012-October 2014). The cross-institutional, interdisciplinary research team involved Professors Allan Cochrane and Giles Mohan (Open University) and Dr Katy Bennett (University of Leicester). This project used three comparative multicultural geographies within urban England to examine belonging and everyday micro social life. In particular the project focused on participation in everyday public and semi-public and educational spaces and the convivial and conflictual negotiations of these by diverse and differentiated local populations.
For more project information visit:

Children’s and adults’ friendships across social and ethnic difference
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/K002384/1)
Sarah was a Co-Investigator on this two-year project (February 2013-June 2015). The cross institutional, interdisciplinary research team involved Professor Carol Vincent (PI) and Dr Humera Iqbal (both Institute of Education, University College London). This project explored the friendship relationships adults and children make in and through urban primary schools. In complex geographies primary schools are resource sites which adults and children from different backgrounds routinely share and interact. The project examined the ways in which adults’ and children’s friendships were socially and ethnically patterned. For more project information visit:

Funded Research Projects
Date Sponsor Details
Feb 2013 - June 2015 ESRC ES/K002384/1

Children’s and adults friendships across social and ethnic difference.

This was a cross-institutional project (with Professor Carol Vincent, Institute of Education, University College London) which considers adults’ and children’s friendships in London and examines what friendships reveal about the nature and extent of ethnic diversity and social divisions in contemporary multicultural society.

Grant awarded: £365,000

July 2012 - October 2014 ESRC ES/J007676/1

Living multiculture: the new geographies of ethnic diversity and the changing formations of multiculture in England.

This is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional project (with Professor Allan Cochrane, Professor Giles Mohan, both Open University and Dr Katy Bennett, University of Leicester). It focuses on the ordinary encounters of super-diverse populations in everyday locations to explore two key questions: how people live complex cultural difference, and what role place plays in this process.

Grant awarded: £463,360

September 2011 - December 2011 Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC – ESRC Research Centre)

Riots, Milton Keynes, Place and Technology.

This small-scale, ‘rapid response’ project used repeated focus groups interviews with young people in Milton Keynes to investigate their experiences and perspectives on the urban disorders in August 2011.

Grant awarded: £2,500

October 2007 - September 2010 ESRC ES/F033311/1

CASE studentship in partnership with Milton Keynes Council Multiculture and cohesion in new urban spaces.

This project focussed on the ways in which a new city space and those responsible for its social well-being responded to its rapidly developing multicultural local population.

Grant awarded: 3 year F/T studentship

October 2003 - September 2004 The Leverhulme Trust

Identities, Ethnicities and Social Organisations in Contemporary Rural England.

This project examined majority ethnic identity formation through the lens of English rurality. It focussed on the way in which nature, the non-human and the concept of community shape processes of ethnicised inclusion and exclusion.

Grant awarded: £33,846


Sarah’s teaching draws on - and develops - her research interests and experience. She currently teaches on two undergraduate modules and contributes to the Faculty’s Masters degree programmes.

Sarah co-convenes, with Dr Jo Britton SCS2005 Race, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and convenes SCS2020 Doing Qualitative Sociological Research.

Postgraduate supervision

Sarah has previously supervised and is currently supervising PhD students in the following areas - multiculture, ethnicity, identity, community and belonging; rural and urban places, migration, everyday life, social in/exclusion and policy interventions. Sarah would welcome applications to study for research degrees in these (and related) fields.

To find out more about our PhD programmes, go to:
Studying for a PhD in Sociology

To apply for a place and for the scholarship, go to:


Publications since 2005


Vincent, Carol, Neal, Sarah and Iqbal, Humera (2018) Friendship and Diversity, class, ethnicity and social relations in the city, Palgrave Macmillan

Neal S, Bennett K, Cochrane A and Mohan G (2018) The Lived Experiences of Multiculture: the new spatial and social relations of diversity, Routledge.

Bloch A, Neal S and Solomos J (2013) Race, Multiculture and Social Policy in Britain. London: Palgrave ISBN 978-0333749722.

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

Mooney G. and Neal S (2009) (Eds) Community: Welfare, Crime and Society. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill and Open University Press ISBN 978-0335229345.

Neal S and Agyeman J (2006) (Eds) The New Countryside? Ethnicity, Nation and Exclusion in Contemporary Rural Britain. (2006) Bristol: The Policy Press ISBN 978-1861347954.

Special journal issues

Neal S and Murji K (2015) (Eds) Sociologies of Everyday Life, Special Issue Sociology Vol 49, Issue 5.

Lewis G and Neal S (2005) Migration and Citizenship, Special Issue Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 28, Issue 3.

Journal articles

Neal S, Bennett K, Cochrane A and Mohan G (2018) Community and Conviviality: informal social life in multicultural places, Sociology

Vincent C, Neal S and Iqbal H (2017) Living in the city: school friendships, diversity and the middle classes, British Journal of Sociology DOI 10.1111/1468-4446.12296.

Neal S (2017) On the tensions of universities as a social institution – developing a comparative sociology of higher education, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(13): 2285-2292 .

Neal S, Vincent C and Iqbal H (2016) Extended Encounters in Primary School Worlds: Shared Social Resource, Connective Spaces and Sustained Conviviality in Socially and Ethnically Complex Urban Geographies, Journal of Intercultural Studies. doi: 10.1080/07256868.2016.1211626.

Vincent C, Neal S and Iqbal H (2016) Encounters with diversity: Children’s friendships and parental responses, Urban Studies doi: 10.1177/0042098016634610.

Vincent C, Neal S and Iqbal H (2016) Children’s friendships in diverse primary schools: teachers and the processes of policy enactment, Journal of Education Policy. doi: 10.1080/02680939.2015.1130859.

Iqbal H, Neal S and Vincent C (2016) Children’s friendships in super-diverse localities: Encounters with social and ethnic difference, Childhood. doi: 10.1177/0907568216633741.

Bennett K, Cochrane A, Mohan G and Neal S (2016) Negotiating the educational spaces of urban multiculture: skills, competencies and college life, Urban Studies. doi: 10.1177/0042098016650325.

Bennett K, Cochrane A, Mohan G and Neal S (2015) Listening, Emotion, Space and Society, Vol 17: 7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.emospa.2015.10.002.

Neal S, Mohan G, Cochrane A and Bennett K (2015) 'You can’t move in Hackney without bumping into an anthropologist’: Why certain places attract research attention, Qualitative Research, Vol 16, 5: 491-507. doi: 10.1177/1468794115596217.

Jones H, Neal S, Mohan G, Cochrane A and Bennett K (2015) Urban Multiculture and everyday encounters in semi-public, franchised cafe spaces, The Sociological Review Vol 63, 3: 644-661 doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.12311.

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

Neal S and Murji K (2015) For Everyday Life in S Neal and K Murji (Eds) Sociologies of Everyday Life, Sociology Vol 49, 5: 811-819. doi: 10.1177/0038038515602160

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

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

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

Neal S, Bennett K, Cochrane A and Mohan G (2013) Living multiculture: understanding the new spatial and social relations of ethnicity and multiculture in England, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Vol 31, 2: 308-323.

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

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

Kesten J, Cochrane A, Mohan G and Neal S (2011) Multiculture and community in a new city space, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 32, 2: 133-150.

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

Neal S and McLaughlin E (2009) Researching Up? Interviews, Emotionality and Policy Making Elites, Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 38, 4: 689-707.

Neal S and Walters S (2008) Rural be/longing: community, conviviality and social organizations in rural England, Sociology Vol. 42, 2: 279-297.

Neal S and McLaughlin E (2007) The public sphere and public interventions on race and nation: intellectuals, policy formation and the Parekh Report, Cultural Studies, 21, 6: 911-931.

Neal S and Walters S (2007) ‘You can get away with loads because there’s no one here’: discourses of regulation and non-regulation in English rural spaces, GeoForum, Vol. 38, 2: 252-275.

Neal S and Walters S (2006) Strangers asking strange questions? A methodological narrative on researching belonging and identity in the English countryside, Journal of Rural Studies, Vol. 22,1: 177-189.

Lewis G and Neal S (2005) ‘Contemporary political contexts, changing terrains and revisited discourses’ Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 28, 3: 423-444.

Other publications

Neal S (2015) Interview with Amanda Wise, Sociologies of the Everyday Sociology Special Issue. Vol 49: Issue 5.

Cochrane A, Neal S, Bennett K and Mohan G (2015) Życie w obliczu inności, czyli: jak zrozumieć współczesne miasta [Living with difference: making sense of the contemporary city], in Smart Metropolia Międzynarodowy Kongres 2014: Przykłady, Doświadczenia, Plany, Pelpin: Bernardinum: 16-20.

Kesten J, Murji K, Neal S and Ruppert E (2012) ‘Knowing, communicating, sense making, place and urban disorder: young people and the 2011 riots’, CRESC Working Paper No. 120, Manchester: Centre for Research on Socio-cultural Change.

Agyeman J and Neal S (2009) Rural Identity and Otherness in R Kitchin and N Thrift (Eds) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography Vol 5. Oxford: Elsevier, with J. Agyeman pp 277-281