Photograph of Mark TomlinsonDr Mark Tomlinson

Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy
Course Leader and Exams Officer - BA Sociology/Social Policy & Sociology Level 3

Telephone: 0114 222 6426 (external), 26426 (internal)
Room: Elmfield, LG11


Mark joined the department in March 2012. He has extensive experience of working in international, interdisciplinary teams and has advised policy makers at the highest levels (including the European Council, European Commission, OECD and UNIDO). Mark's recent research on poverty and labour market disadvantage has led to involvement in advising the UK government on poverty indicators (such as the Child Poverty Unit at the Department for Education) and his research with Robert Walker at Oxford has recently been requested by the Frank Field enquiry (The Foundation Years: Preventing poor children becoming poor adults). In 2011 Mark advised the think tank Demos prior to their recent publication on ‘3D Poverty’ which also relied heavily on this work. He has also worked with organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Child Poverty Action Group who recently published some of his work on child poverty and well-being (with Robert Walker). Mark has held posts such as Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Social Policy at the University of Oxford, and senior research posts at the Universities of Manchester, Aalborg (Denmark), and Galway (Ireland).


Mark's main current areas of research are:

  • Poverty and deprivation (measurement and impacts);
  • Child poverty and well-being;
  • Labour markets, skills and training;
  • The relationships between social, innovation and industrial policy;
  • Socio-economic indicators;
  • Advanced multivariate methods (such as Structural Equation Models, panel regression, neural networks).

He has a strong methodological focus and is constantly exploring the boundaries of quantitative methods for use in social science. Mark's recent work has explored the use of Structural Equation Modelling in its many forms for the measurement of multiple dimensions of poverty and disadvantage. This has been executed in tandem with exploring causal linkages between various dimensions of poverty, labour market engagement and well-being, and how these relate to outcomes later in life. This has involved extensive use of panel data from several countries and the implementation of panel regression techniques.

Mark is also experienced in comparative social science research at several levels. For example, his PhD was an extensive study of labour market segmentation across three eastern European countries. He has undertaken comparative research since then on projects such as the Advanced Benchmarking Concepts project for the European Commission (which was inspired by Mark's work with Bengt-Åke Lundvall for the Portuguese Presidency of the EC when it formulated what was to become known as the Open Method of Co-ordination). This project sought to understand how different European states could be compared with each other in a rational way in order to devise new innovation and social policies without resorting to crude league tables and the ‘naming and shaming’ of poor performers which was a popular device at the time.

Most recently, Mark has been engaged on a project with Robert Walker and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser on the utilisation of various advanced methods for differentiating between welfare regimes at macro level and the integration of this macro analysis into comparative research on employment activation policies using comparable micro-panel datasets from different countries. This project is funded by the ESRC for which Mark was a co-applicant. He has also undertaken work for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Child Poverty Action Group on topics such as recurrent poverty and its effects on employment, and the impacts of poverty on the social participation of adults and children.

Currently, Mark's research is revisiting work he undertook in the past on innovation systems and innovation policy. There is significant scope for combining insights derived from social policy analysis (such as labour market activation and training policy) and social capability theories related to innovation systems. Mark has been a collaborator of Bengt-Åke Lundvall at Aalborg University, Denmark, who has been instrumental in the development of the theory of innovation systems and the so-called 'learning economy' framework. This postulates that developing human capabilities is a key to economic growth and fostering innovation, but there has been relatively little attention paid by innovation scholars to employment systems and related employment and social policy dynamics. It should be possible to combine data based on innovation and learning with the type of data used in welfare policy analysis in order to further comparative work on welfare regimes and innovation system typologies.

Funded Research Projects
Date Sponsor Details
2015 ESRC Partnership award fund Developing a policy learning tool for anti-poverty policy design and assessment.
2011-12 Joseph Rowntree Foundation Poverty, Choice and Diversity: Re-interpreting Peter Townsend’s ideas on participation and poverty.
2011-12 ESRC Comparative Methods Programme Integrating Macro and Micro Perspectives in Cross-National comparison: Dynamic Policy Structures and Individual Outcomes.
2008-9 John Fell Fund Joint application for the funding of an international research network on social inequality across social science departments in Oxford University.
2008-9 Joseph Rowntree Foundation Recurrent poverty, labour market segmentation and household change.
2005 Labour and Skills Council Examining Nonresponse Bias in the New Employers Skills Survey.
2004 CISC, Galway Proposal for a 5 year research programme to explore the National System of Innovation in the Republic of Ireland.
2003-5 ESRC The Diffusion of Cultures of Consumption: a comparative analysis.
2002-4 European Commission The LOCNIS Project.
2001-3 European Commission ENMOB project (thematic network).
2001 European Commission The Advanced Benchmarking Concepts Project (ABC).
2000 Confederation of British Industry CBI - Collaboration and culture survey 2000.
2000 Portugese Presidency of the European Council International benchmarking as a policy learning tool.
2000-2 ESRC Social capital and social networks in political movements.


Mark convenes:

  • SCS3031 How to Lie with Statistics (Level 3)
  • SCS2017 Work and Labour (Level 2)
  • SCS663 Visual Methods for Social Scientists (MA)

Mark teaches and supervises students at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. He believes in fostering strong linkages between his research and teaching. Mark's lectures and workshops are therefore dependent on and influenced by his own research experience both as a sociologist and as an adviser to policy makers. Mark tries to encourage students to think critically about the course material as well as social research in general, and believes that maintaining a healthy scepticism is a great asset in the pursuit of any scientific or social-scientific endeavour.

See our Undergraduate degree and Postgraduate taught pages.

Postgraduate supervision

Mark has supervised several dissertations at Masters and PhD level. He is particularly interested in supervising students who undertake quantitative work or who are engaged in novel methodologies. Mark has a broad range of experience with primary data collection, secondary data analysis and advanced statistical methods.

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


Publications since 2005

Tomlinson, M., Walker, A. C., & Foster, L. (2016). Social Quality and Work: What Impact Does Low Pay Have on Social Quality?. Journal of Social Policy, 45(2), 345-371. doi:10.1017/S0047279415000732

Ferragina, E., Tomlinson, M., & Walker, R. (2016). Poverty and Participation in Twenty-First Century Multicultural Britain. Social Policy and Society, 25 pages. doi:10.1017/S1474746416000440

Heyes, J., Tomlinson, M., & Whitworth, A. (2016). Underemployment and wellbeing in the UK before and after the Great Depression. Work, Employment and Society. doi:10.1177/0950017016666199

Ferragina, E., Seeleib-Kaiser, M., & Tomlinson, M. (2012) Unemployment Protection and Family Policy at the Turn of the 21st Century: A Dynamic Approach to Welfare Regime Theory. Social Policy and Administration: an international journal of policy and research. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9515.2012.00855.x

Tomlinson, M., & Walker, R. (2012) Labor Market Disadvantage and the Experience of Recurrent Poverty. In P. Emmenegger, S. Häusermann, B. Palier, & M. Seeleib-Kaiser (Eds.), The Age of Dualization (pp. 52-72). Oxford University Press.

Ferragina, E., Tomlinson, M. & Walker, R. (2011) 'Determinants of participants in the United Kingdom: A preliminary analysis' in N. Buck (ed.) Overview of Understanding Society, ISER/ESRC.

Tomlinson, M. and Walker, R. (2010) Recurrent Poverty: the impact of family and labour market changes, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ISBN 978 1 85935 731 6.

Tomlinson, M. and Walker, R. (2010) 'Poverty, adolescent well-being and outcomes later in life', Journal of International Development, 22 (8), 1162-1182. doi: 10.1002/jid.1753

Walker, R., Tomlinson, M. & Williams, G. (2010) 'The Problems with Poverty: Definition, measurement and interpretation', in G. Walford and Tucker, E. (eds) The Sage Handbook of Measurement: How social scientists generate, modify, and validate indicators and scales. Sage Publications.

Tomlinson, M. and Walker, R. (2009) Coping with Complexity: Child and adult poverty, London: Child Poverty Action Group, ISBN 978 1 906076 36 8.

Tomlinson, M. (2009) Emerging Demands for UNIDO Statistical Data, Consultancy report to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna, Austria.

Christensen, J.L., Gregersen, B., Johnson, B., Lundvall, B.-Å. and Tomlinson, M. (2008), ‘An NSI in Transition? Denmark’, in Edquist , C. and Hommen, L. (eds.) Small Country Innovation Systems: Globalization, Change and Policy in Asia and Europe. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Tomlinson, M., Walker, R and Williams, G. (2008) 'Measuring Poverty in Britain as a Multi-dimensional Concept, 1991 to 2003'. Journal of Social Policy, 37(4): 597-620. doi: 10.1017/S0047279408002237

Tomlinson, M., Walker, R. and Williams, G. (2008) 'Child poverty and well-being in the here and now' Poverty, Winter 2008, 129: 11-14.

Tomlinson, M. (2006) ‘Do European learning styles converge’, in Lorenz, E. and Lundvall, B.-Å. (eds.) How Europe's Economies Learn: Coordinating Competing Models. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Clark, K., Peters, S. & Tomlinson, M (2005) The Determinants of Lateness: Evidence from British Workers' Scottish Journal of Political Economy 52 (2), pp. 282-304. doi: 10.1111/j.0036-9292.2005.00345.x

Southerton, D & Tomlinson, M (2005) Pressed for time: the differential aspects of a time squeeze Sociological Review 53 (2), pp. 215-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2005.00511.x

Tomlinson, M (2005) Non response bias in the National Employer Skills Survey 2004 Report to the Learning and Skills Council

A full list of publications can be downloaded by clicking the link on the right of this page.