Anti-Terrorism, Citizenship and Security in the UK

Submitting Institution

Oxford Brookes University

Unit of Assessment

Politics and International Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Sociology
Law and Legal Studies: Law

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Summary of the impact

Dr Lister's pioneering research into people's perceptions of safety in relation to anti-terrorism measures has significantly shaped and informed public and political debate in this complex and controversial area. Lister has co-authored submissions to the Home Office, provided a policy briefing to the National Assembly for Wales, hosted a workshop with representatives from `think tanks' and government departments. Additionally, he has engaged with a variety of civil society/advocacy groups and published commentary (including by invitation) on this area of public policy. Lister has highlighted the negative experiences of a range of ethnic minority citizens, as well as demonstrating the merits of using evidence based research in a highly political and sensitive arena.

Underpinning research

The research which underpins this impact stems from research undertaken within Lister's (Oxford Brookes University 2007-present) Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project, with Dr Lee Jarvis of Swansea University, (which itself builds upon his ESRC funded doctoral and postdoctoral research on citizenship and participation in the UK). The ESRC project ran from September 2009 to January 2011 and sought to explore how ordinary people think about counter-terrorism policy. Specifically, it explored how counter-terrorist measures impact on perceptions or experiences of security and citizenship within the UK, and the significance of geographical residence and ethnicity as explanatory factors within this. The project undertook 15 focus groups in different parts of the UK, to access in-depth, qualitatively rich attitudes of specific communities and groups. The impact of the research was achieved during the writing up of the research.

A first major finding was around attitudes to anti-terrorism measures. A range of discourses sceptical of anti-terrorism measures were identified, including fears of their misuse, civil liberties concerns, views of their ineffectiveness and also concerns about creating a climate of fear. Positive views were also encountered, including satisfaction that government was "doing something", an understanding of the need for such measures, and a view that sufficient safeguards to protect liberties were in place. Whilst differences between ethnic groups in terms of attitudes toward anti-terrorism policies are slight (in terms of support for such policies or otherwise), there are pronounced differences in the impact of such measures (perceived and experienced) upon distinct citizens and communities. A common concern highlighted that anti-terrorism measures have impacted disproportionately on rights, responsibilities and the opportunities for social/political participation amongst communities, with white individuals less targeted than non-white individuals. Thus, a key finding was that ethnic minority citizens more broadly, and not just Muslim or those of South Asian background, felt targeted. This raises the possibility that anti-terrorism measures may exacerbate issues and problems around citizenship by negatively affecting the citizenship of minority communities. Such differences point to genuine concerns surrounding the universality of citizenship within the UK, and the rights, responsibilities and opportunities for political participation associated with this status (see Jarvis & Lister, 2012).

A second key finding within this research was that security is understood in a broad and varied fashion across the United Kingdom. Six dominant and discrete security imaginaries were articulated to Jarvis and Lister by members of the public within their focus groups. These linked the concept of security to survival, contentment, hospitality, equality, freedom and insecurity respectively (see Jarvis & Lister, 2013).

A third aspect of the research is an analysis of the ways in which contemporary anti-terrorism measures seek to deploy and make use of citizens as tools of anti-terrorism. Contemporary initiatives are heavily reliant on the continued participation of citizens for their functioning; a reliance persistently justified by claims to uncertainty, even ignorance, among political elites. This "stakeholder security" leads to the conscription of ordinary individuals into the state's security apparatuses, a conscription that positions citizens precariously as simultaneously technologies, subjects and objects of security. (See Jarvis & Lister, 2010)

References to the research

External Research Funding

ESRC Small Grant Award: RES 000-22-3765 (award amount £73,265.51) 01/09/09 - 31/01/11.
Anti-Terrorism, Citizenship and Security in the UK (with Dr. Lee Jarvis, Swansea University).
Peer review process: 2 Referees at grant application stage, prior to the Research Grants Board's final decision. Further details available via project webpage:

ESRC/Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Award no. PTA-039-27-0026 (award amount £26,983.14) 01/10/04 - 31/08/05.
Democratic Renewal and Citizen Engagement
Peer review process 2 Referees at grant application stage, prior to the Research Grants Board's final decision. Further details available via project webpage:

ESRC PhD Award. Award no. PTA-030-2002-01427. 01/10/02 - 30/09/04
The Social Foundations of Democratic Participation
Peer review process 2 Referees at grant application stage, prior to the Research Grants Board's final decision

Relevant Research Outputs

Refereed Journal Articles

Jarvis, L. & Lister, M. (2012) `Disconnected Citizenship? The Impacts of Anti-Terrorism Policy on Citizenship in the UK', in Political Studies 61(3), pp656-675 (Double-blind peer-reviewed; 5 referees). DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00993.x
Submitted to REF2014, Oxford Brookes University, UoA21 Politics and International Studies, REF2, MJ Lister, Output identifier 8785.


Jarvis, L. & Lister, M. (2013) `Vernacular Securities and their Study: A Qualitative Analysis and Research Agenda', International Relations, 27 (2), pp 158-179(Double-blind peer-reviewed; 2 referees). DOI: 10.1177/0047117812460880
Submitted to REF2014, Oxford Brookes University, UoA21 Politics and International Studies, REF2, MJ Lister, Output identifier 8784.


Jarvis, L. & Lister, M. (2010) `Stakeholder Security: The new Western way of Counter-terrorism?', in Contemporary Politics 16(2), pp. 173-188. (Double-blind peer reviewed; 2 referees). DOI: 10.1080/13569771003783943
Submitted to REF2014, Oxford Brookes University, UoA21 Politics and International Studies, REF2, MJ Lister, Output identifier 7290.


Details of the impact

The specific impacts of Lister's research can be characterised as informing the public policy debate with evidenced-based research in an area of government policy that is highly politically charged. Within a comparatively short period he has been able to achieve a substantial reach and significance to the role of informing the policy process. At the same time as drafting the key research outputs listed above, Lister (with co-author Jarvis) undertook a range of impact activities, including writing briefing papers for wider audiences and giving presentations on the research.

The diversity of audiences with whom Lister has undertaken impact-related activities attests to this, which include: government agencies, lobby groups, think-tanks and civil society organisations.

The nature and extent of his impact is divided into two broad categories: contribution to the policy process, and influence on public policy debate.

Contribution to the policy process:

  • A co-authored, with Dr Lee Jarvis, a submission to the Home Office Rapid Review of Counter Terrorism Powers (announced by the Home Secretary on 13 July 2010). The submission was acknowledged in the review findings, published on 26/01/11. Specific policy recommendations within the submission included:
  • I. For counter terrorism policies to be more widely accepted and viewed with greater legitimacy, their security-enhancing aspects should be more clearly demonstrated to citizens;

    II. A need to address the perceived targeting of ethnic minority communities (and not, exclusively, Muslim communities) by counter-terrorism measures;

    III. A need to render stop and search powers more acceptable to certain sections of the population by making permanent the revisions announced by the Home Secretary in the House of Commons on 08/07/10.

    This latter recommendation, in line with a European Court of Human Rights ruling, was adopted in the Protections of Freedom Act 2012. This has meant the ending of a power which saw, at its height in 2008/09, over 200,000 people stopped and searched.

  • Hosting a workshop with relevant stakeholders in the counter-terrorism and community cohesion arenas in London (14/01/11). Attendees included representatives of the following organisations: the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), Metropolitan Police Authority, the Muslim Contact Unit, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Institute for Race Relations, and Facilitators for a Better Jamaica.
  • A Swansea University National Assembly Briefing, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff. (07/12/10): Feeling Secure? The Public and UK Counter-terrorism Powers.

Influence on public policy debate:

As well as having direct influence on policy, Lister's research has shaped and informed public and political debate in this complex and controversial area, in the main by illuminating the experiences of a range of ethnic minority citizens. Drawing on the primary qualitative evidence gathered in the ESRC project, the research has highlighted the negative impact of many anti-terrorism measures on Black and Asian citizens. Whilst the impact on many Muslim/Asian citizens may be frequently discussed in the public debate, the recognition that the negative effects of anti-terrorism measures go wider and reach other ethnic minority groups represents a distinctive contribution to the public debate. Articles for the Muslim Council of Britain (2011a, published online 15/06/11) and (2011b, 05/02/11) have helped to contribute to the public debate on these issues, as witnessed by their citation in other public discussions on these issues (see Awan, 2012, and White & McEvoy 2012)

Sources to corroborate the impact

Policy influence/impact:

Jarvis, L. & Lister, M. (2010) Counter-terrorism, Citizenship and Security in the UK. Evidence submitted to the Home Office Rapid Review of Counter Terrorism Powers, announced by the Home Secretary on 13 July 2010. Submission comprised a co-authored 49pp. summary of evidence prepared by Dr. Lee Jarvis and Dr. Michael Lister. (available from Oxford Brookes University Research Support Office)

The Home Office Reports discussing our contributions to the Rapid Review of Counter-terrorism and Security Powers are available here, in their `Summary of responses to the consultation':

Public debate influence/impact:

Jarvis, L. & Lister, M. (2011a) `Values and Stakeholders in the 2011 Prevent Strategy', in Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Soundings, PREVENT 2011: Towards Informed Responses, online at:

Lister M. & Jarvis, L. (2011b) `The Counter-Terrorism Review: Trading Liberty for Security', in Open Democracy, 5 February 2011, online at:

Lister M. & Jarvis, L. (2013) `Vernacular Securities and Everyday Life' in e-International Relations, 19 june 2013, online at:

Research cited in public debate in the following publications:

Awan, I. (2012) `Prevent Agenda and the doctrine of fear in the Muslim community', Arches Quarterly, 5 (9), pp. 63-67

White, S. & McEvoy, K. (2012) `Countering Violent Extremism: Community Engagement Programmes In Europe', Qatar International Academy for Security Studies

Spalek, B., Limbada, Z., Zahra McDonald, L., Silk, D. & Da Silva, R. (2012) `Impact of Counter- Terrorism on Communities: Methodology Report', Institute for Strategic Dialogue

The following individuals, to whom the research has been presented, could also be contacted to attest to the significance of this research:

  • Corroborating contact 1. Head of the Social and Behavioural Science Unit, Office for Security and Counter-terrorism (our research findings were cited in a presentation of his)
  • Corroborating contact 2. Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Brick Court Chambers.
  • Corroborating contact 3. Gatwick Port, Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit.
  • Corroborating statement author 4. IPPR, Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at Demos — (email which states: "Demos' work, across the many policy areas that it works on, shares a common concern to connect normal people to the policymaking process. Dr Lister's work has been important in helping us to think about what that would mean on questions of security and public safety")