James’ research centres on the third sector, particularly on the role of the sector in the delivery of public services. More widely he is interested in issues concerning the reform and transformation of public services and public policy, including citizen engagement and involvement. At TSRC he worked closely with David Mullins and Tony Bovaird, with whom he carried out research on third sector partnerships for service delivery. With Rebecca Taylor, he has researched the third sector’s role in the Work Programme through ‘The third sector delivering employment services'. The main research report was published in February 2013. Research from autumn 2012 has focused on shifts in public services associated with the new commissioning landscape, and its implications for the third sector, focusing in particularly on the commissioning of mental health service.
James also has academic interests in urban and regional governance, with a particular focus on the politics of city-regionalism; critical perspectives on urban housing market restructuring and housing policy; and broadly on issues in urban regeneration, neighbourhoods and community.