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Mike Tomlinson

photo of Mike Tomlinson

BA, MPhil (Nottingham) 
Professor of Social Policy
Room 1.08, 6 College Park
Ext 3391; email:

My research interests lie in two main areas: economic and social marginalization, and social control – specifically the workings of criminal justice systems. I have worked on unemployment, poverty and inequality, and have always been interested in how such problems impact on specific communities, families and individuals. Much of my work has focused on the political economy of the Northern Ireland conflict. I am particularly interested in the role of social policy and social control strategies in managing division and conflict. I have written on policing and penal policies, and have spent time in most prisons in Ireland – as an Open University tutor.

In the mid-1990s I carried out research on long-term unemployment in West Belfast for the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights. Since then I have worked with the Department for Social Development on a four year research programme using social security statistics to inform policy. I was part of the team that completed the first ever Poverty and Social Exclusion study in Northern Ireland, funded by the Office of the First Minister/Deputy First Minister and HM Treasury. Evidence from the PSE survey informed a subsequent research project, commissioned by Combat Poverty Agency, on the international evidence surrounding the relationship between poverty and armed conflicts, as well as the role of anti-poverty policies in peace-building. This led to work on the legacies of conflict, particularly the mental health impacts.  I carried out a systematic review of the literature on mental health, suicide and armed conflict for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. With colleagues from six universities across the UK, I am now participating in the Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK project, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council. 

I am keen to support applications for postgraduate research in any of the above areas but especially on furthering our understanding of poverty and inequalties, and their social  consequences.

Teaching Interests

Poverty and inequality, anti-discrimination policy, employment/unemployment policies, imprisonment, counter-terrorism policies.

Recent Publications

Tomlinson, M. (2013) 'Is Everybody Happy? The Politics and Measurement of National Well-being', Policy & Politics, DOI: 10.1332/030557312X655530

Tomlinson, M. (2013) 'Legacies of Conflict: the evidence', Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series 2013-14, Northern Ireland Assembly, 24 October 2013.

Tomlinson, M. (2013) Dealing With Suicide, Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series 2, Northern Ireland Assembly, 11 April 2013.

Tomlinson, M. (2012) From Counter-terrorism to Criminal Justice: Transformation or Business as Usual?, The Howard Journal, 51(5): 442–457

Tomlinson, M. (2012) 'War, Peace and Suicide: The Case of Northern Ireland', International Sociology, 27(4): 464-482. 

Tomlinson, M. (2012) Young People and the Legacies of Conflict  . Children of Conflict Conference presentation (Belfast 26th March).

Tomlinson, M. (2012) Recent Developments in Sociology of Suicide (Text)   Slides   A Level Conference 9th February.

Tomlinson, M. and Kelly, G. P. (2011) What is to be done about Happiness?   Concepts, measurement and the rise of behavioural social policy. (Working Paper)

Tomlinson, M. (2010) The Social Costs of the Troubles   (FASSGEM Keynote)

Tomlinson, M. (2010) War, Peace and Suicide  : beyond Durkheim. (Working Paper)

Tomlinson, M. and Kelly, G. P. (2010) NI Draft Budget Response    Bristol: PSEUK.

Tomlinson, M. (2009) Socio-economic issues , Reflecting on the Report of the Consultative Group on the Past. Belfast: Committee on the Administration of Justice. pp. 59-61. 

Tomlinson, M. (2008) How Active Can We Get?    Activation policies and labour market trends, Ireland North and South. Belfast: DSFA/DSD Social Welfare Summer School.


Tomlinson, M. (2007) Suicide and Young People: The Case of Northern IrelandChild Care in Practice, 13 (4), 435-443.

Tomlinson, M. (2007)  The Trouble with Suicide. Mental Health, Suicide and the Northern Ireland Conflict: A Review of the Evidence (6.66Mb - large pdf file). Belfast: Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI).

Tomlinson, M. (with Borooah, V. K. and Hillyard P.) (2006) ‘ Equity-Sensitive Indicators of Living Standards with an Application to Northern Ireland’ Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 53 (5) pp. 616-635.

Tomlinson, M. (with P. Hillyard and B. Rolston) (2005) Poverty and Conflict in Ireland: An International Perspective, Dublin: Institute of Public Administration/Combat Poverty Agency.

Tomlinson, M. (with P. Hillyard, G.P.Kelly, E.McLaughlin, and D. Patsios) (2003) Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Democratic Dialogue.

Tomlinson, M. (with G.P.Kelly) (2003) 'What's the Use of the Noble Index? Theories, Methods and Applications' , in E. McLaughlin and G. P. Kelly, Edging Poverty Out: Anti-Poverty Strategies in Ireland, North and South. Belfast: Department for Social Development

Tomlinson, M. (2002) 'Reconstituting social policy: the case of Northern Ireland', Social Policy Review, No. 14. pp. 57-83.

Tomlinson, M. (ed.) (2001) Joblessness and Poverty. Belfast: Department for Social Development.

Tomlinson, M. (with P. Hillyard) (2000) 'Patterns of Policing and Policing Patten' Journal of Law and Society Vol.27 (3) pp. 394-415.

Research projects          Publications       

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