Hilary Pilkington


Personal profile

Research interests

Hilary Pilkington has a long standing research interest in youth and youth cultural practices, post-socialist societies and qualitative, especially, ethnographic research methods.

She has been coordinator or principal investigator of over a dozen large research grants involving multiple international partners including the FP7 MYPLACE project (https://myplaceresearch.wordpress.com/), AHRC Post-socialist Punk project and the ESRC Drug use and youth cultural practice in Russia project. She was also a member of the coordinating team of the H2020 PROMISE (PROmoting youth Involvement and Social Engagement: Opportunities and challenges for ‘conflicted’ young people across Europe) project (http://www.promise.manchester.ac.uk/en/home-page/), as part of which she conducted a study of young Muslims' responses to the UK government PREVENT programme.

Her current research focuses on youth, inclusion and exclusion, political participation, subculture, activism and extremism. Most recently she coordinated the H2020 DARE (Dialogue about Radicalisation and Equality) project (https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/dare/), which adopted a societal rather than security-focused approach to the study of radicalisation. The project conducted multiple strands of empirical research related to young people's engagement with 'Islamist' and 'extreme-right' milieus in 13 countries across Europe. Its findings have led to the development of  a theoretical critique of the end-point determinism of the concept of radicalisation, substantiated through extensive ethnographic study of journeys through radical milieus that do not end in violent extremism. This has led to a more nuanced understanding of trajectories of partial, stalled or non-radicalisation. This knowledge is essential for developing effective counter-extremism (CVE) policy and practice that is community-owned and led. 

This research has led to collaboration with the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation to develop a toolkit for 'mediated dialogue' for use by counter-extremism and conflict resolution practitioners but also youth and community workers working with groups or communities with polarised views or in tension with one another. 


Hilary Pilkington is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester and Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences. Originally a specialist in  contemporary Russian society and culture, she was previously Director of the Centre for Russian and East European at the University of Birmingham and Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick.

A series of large EU-funded projects turned her own research focus to the study of youth participation, activism, stigmatisation and extremism in the UK. Most recently she has coordinated the H2020 DARE (Dialogue about Radicalisation and Equality) project (https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/dare/), taking a critical approach to understanding young people's engagement in radical milieus as a process of 'radicalisation'. The findings of this project will be published, inter alia, in H.Pilkington (ed.) Resisting Radicalisation? Understanding Young People’s Journeys Through Radicalising Milieus, Berghahn (in press).

Hilary is currently a member of the Academic-Practitioner Countering Extremism Network (APCEN) of Commission for Countering Extremism (an at arm's length body of the Home Office) and a Commissioner to the Independent Commission on UK Counter-Terrorism Law, Policy and Practice, coordinated by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. She previously served as independent Commissioner on the Preventing Violent Extremism and Promoting Social Cohesion Commission set up by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham in the wake of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.

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 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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