Professor John Solomos
School of Social Sciences
The issues that Professor Solomos of the School of Social Sciences explores in his research - race and racism, ethnicity and migration, transnationalism and multiculturalism - are rarely far from the news headlines. In his empirical studies and theoretical contributions to the field of Sociology, he has challenged easy generalisations and offered careful, measured insight into some of the most complex issues facing global society today.
Much of Professor Solomos' work has centred on exploring race relations and racism in contemporary Britain. A landmark research project into the cultures of racism in football during the late 1990s took numerous interviews with supporters and footballers as the starting point to examine the race relations that permeate the national sport, from its governing institutions to the terraces. At a time when racism in football was under scrutiny in Britain, such a detailed ethnographic study informed not only sociological understanding of race and racism in sport, but also had implications for policymakers and campaigners. More recent work on the political participation of ethnic minorities in London and Birmingham has shed light on how migrant and minority politics intersect with the wider social and political environment. Both that study and Professor Solomos' work on how race and ethnicity shape social capital have contributed to debates in the academic community and further afield.
The work on race and ethnicity has led to studies that consider several closely related issues, including migration, multiculturalism, citizenship and transnationalism. A 2009 article on identity and social capital in transnational families used data collected on three transnational family networks in minority communities (Caribbean, Indian and Italian) within the UK to explore conceptions of identity and how families maintain meaningful links across national boundaries. Through his collaboration with colleagues in the University's Centre for Race, Ethnicity and Migration, Professor Solomos has also explored how irregular migrants in the UK and France understand their identity and citizenship and how they have sought to mobilise and articulate their demands.
Though much of his empirical research has been focused on the UK, Professor Solomos has used his role as co-editor of leading journal Ethnic and Racial Studies over the last ten years to foster global debate and dialogue on race, ethnicity and nationalism. He argues that there is a need for greater understanding of how the sociological study of race and racism has evolved in several different contexts around the world and with that understanding, an appraisal of the common theoretical ground that exists between countries as diverse as Brazil, the United States and Britain. Such a global debate, argues Professor Solomos, has the potential to inform how sociologists and policymakers approach future challenges in the field of race and ethnicity.