Before joining TSRC James was a researcher at the Institute for Economic Governance at the University of Manchester. He completed his PhD entitled ‘Housing Market Renewal: Gentrification or Mixed Sustainable Communities?’ at Manchester in 2007. Prior to that he was a research assistant at the Centre for Urban Policy Studies, also at the University of Manchester. He has researched extensively on sub-national governance in work funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the European Commission (ESPON); and by other public bodies such as the Northern Way and Manchester City Council. He has a track record of research on communities, neighbourhoods and the voluntary and community sector, including the national evaluation of New Deal for Communities (for ODPM), evaluation of community contracts (CLG), voluntary sector delivery of public services and their role in tackling worklessness (for North West regional bodies), and on housing policy, practice and equalities for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). More recently he has completed research projects funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme; and is currently involved in contract research funded by the Ministry of Justice and New Philanthropy Capital.
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.