Dr Andrew Holden

My career in teaching and research began in 1987. Most of my career has been spent teaching at honours level, leading undergraduate programmes and undertaking academic research. I have a substantial amount of experience in higher education curriculum development and academic consultancy. In 1999, I was awarded my PhD in Sociology from the University of Lancaster, and have since published two books and twenty eight journal and/or periodical papers. I have acted as an expert witness in three legal cases involving child custody and one asylum seeking case for the Home Office. I have appeared eleven times as an academic commentator in the British media (three television appearances and eight radio interviews). In 2005, I was appointed as an academic researcher at the University of Lancaster to lead a two year investigation on community cohesion in East Lancashire – an action based project commissioned by the Home Office.  My final report was submitted to the Home Office, the Department for Education and Skills, the Department of Communities and Local Government, the Head of Counter Terrorism and the BBC.  In 2007, I joined the Public Services team at the East Lancashire Institute of Higher Education (now the University Centre at Blackburn College). Since then, I have undertaken three further research projects. 

Contact Details

Office: Room 409 UCBC

Email: andrew.holden@blackburn.ac.uk

Tel: 01254 292903


BA (Hons), PGCE, MA, PhD, FHEA

Recent Research Projects
  • 2005-2007 - Action based community cohesion investigation commissioned by the Home Office and overseen by the Department of Ethics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster
  • 2008-2011 - Empirical project on children’s play as a vehicle for community cohesion. The project was commissioned by the Department of Culture, Sport and Leisure at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
  • 2011-2013 – Sociological investigation on integration and social cohesion in post-16 education (funded by the University Centre at Blackburn College)

Currently working on my third monograph (reflexivity and religious identity)   

Public Engagement

Radio interview: The Spirit of Things, ABC Radio, Melbourne, Australia – academic commentary on the religious beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (broadcast in Sydney, 26 May 2002)

Expert witness in 3 legal cases involving religious beliefs and child custody: Edinburgh (June 2002), Newport, S. Wales (October 2002), Bath (September 2009)

TV interview: Losing it, ITV academic commentary on defection from the Watchtower movement - (3 October 2002)

Advisor to the Home Office in an asylum case concerning religious persecution in Africa (January 2006)

TV script consultant: BBC Holby City (August 2006)

Radio interview: BBC Asian Network – academic commentary on ethnic group integration in secondary education (8 September 2006)

Radio interview: BBC Radio Lancashire – academic commentary on the contribution of education to community cohesion (11 September 2006)

Radio interview: 2BR Radio Station, Burnley, Lancashire – academic commentary on religious, cultural and ethnic diversity in East Lancashire schools and colleges (21 September 2006)

Radio interview: News Talk 106, Dublin - academic commentary on the relationship between religious freedom and civil law (22 September 2006)

TV interview: Inside Out, BBC1 – academic commentary on ways forward for community cohesion in the UK (27 November 2006)

Radio interview: BBC Radio Lancashire: academic commentary on religious cohesion in East Lancashire (3 March 2009)

TV interview: The Politics Show, BBC1 – academic commentary on ethnic segregation in East Lancashire (Sunday 14 June 2009)

Radio interview: BBC Radio Lancashire – academic commentary on integration in East Lancashire over the last decade (Wednesday 6 August 2014)

Consultancy interview with The Guardian (Tuesday 16 June 2015). Explanations for the changing recruitment activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (article published Tuesday 14 July 2015) 

Radio interview (The Report, BBC Radio 4 – interviewed by Caroline Wyatt on Monday 6 July 2015) - academic commentary on the Jehovah’s Witnesses (on air Thursday 23 July 2015)

Consultancy radio interview: CBS News, New York - academic commentary on the prohibition of blood transfusions among Jehovah’s Witnesses (6 May 2016)

Consultancy interview: BBC Radio 5. Academic commentary on the film Apostasy featuring the lives of ex-communicated Jehovah’s Witnesses (17 July 2018)

Teaching and Professional Activities

Teaching and curriculum development of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in further and higher education (1987 to date)

Ethics committee member, University Centre at Blackburn College, 2011-2014 (Chair 2013-14)

My current teaching responsibilities lie mainly in the area of research methods and research project work. I also supervise a large number of undergraduate dissertations on a range of programmes. My academic interests are in the sociology of religion and education, and in the wider issues of community cohesion and integration. My dissertation supervision experience has recently extended into the areas of policy analysis and young people’s developmental/life experiences.    

Peer reviewer for the international journal Educational Research (March 2016)

Recent Publications & Other Research Outputs


 Jehovah’s Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement, London: Routledge (2002)

Religious Cohesion in Times of Conflict: Christian-Muslim Relations in Segregated Towns, London: Continuum (2009)

Articles and conference papers

Witnessing the Future: Millenarianism and Postmodernity’, Sociology Review, Vol.11 No.3 (2002)

‘Averting Risk: A Cultural Analysis of the Worldview of Jehovah’s Witnesses’, (online paper, 2002) www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc113ajw.htm

‘Cavorting With the Devil: Jehovah’s Witnesses Who Abandon Their Faith’, (online paper, 2002) www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc114ajw.htm )

‘Doing Tolerance: How Jehovah’s Witnesses Live With Unbelieving Relatives’, (online paper, 2002) www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc115ajw.htm

‘Peering Through the Watch Tower: How Jehovah’s Witnesses Learn to Worship and Evangelise’, (online paper, 2002) www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc116ajw.htm

‘On Socialisation and Rebellion: A Sociological Analysis of the Religious Experiences of Young Jehovah’s Witnesses’, (online paper, 2002) www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc117ajw.htm

‘Returning to Eden: Futuristic Symbolism and its Effects on Jehovah’s Witnesses’, (online paper, 2002) www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc118ajw.htm

‘Building Bridges: A Study of Faith Cohesion in Burnley’, (paper presented at Civil Society and Conflict Prevention conference, Lancaster University, 18 May 2006)

‘The Burnley Project: Evaluating the Contribution of Interfaith Dialogue to Community Cohesion’, Interim Report for the Home Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government (online paper published by the University of Lancaster, August 2006) www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/religstudies/research

‘The Burnley Project: Faith Attitudes among Young People in Burnley and Blackburn’, Faith Initiative, No.17 (May 2007)

‘The Contribution of Faith to Integration and Cohesion and the threat posed by enclavisation in some northern towns’, (co-written with Alan Billings) – think piece published by the Department of Communities and Local Government: www.communities.gov.uk (June 2007)

‘True To Thee ‘til Death: Why Jehovah’s Witnesses Refuse Blood’, The Journal, Monday 19 November 2007 (also available at www.journal-online.co.uk)

‘Interfaith Interventions and Cohesive Communities: The Effectiveness of Interfaith Activity in Towns Marked by Enclavisation and Parallel Lives’, (co-authored with Alan Billings). Final report submitted to the Home Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government, January 2008

‘Religion in Segregated Communities’, Sociology Review, Vol.17 No.4 (2008)                                          

‘Can Citizenship Education Make a Difference?’, Sociology Review, Vol.18 No.4 (2009)

‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’, in Lippy, C. and Williams, P.W. (eds) Encyclopedia of Religion in America, 1106-1109 Washington DC: Congress Quarterly (2010)

‘Integrative Play in a Segregated Borough: A New Way Forward for Community Cohesion’, Blackburn: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council - www.blackburn.gov.uk/upload/doc/play_document.doc (2010)

‘Children’s Play in Segregated Areas: A Vehicle for Social Integration?’, Early Years Educator Vol.12 No.6 (2010)

‘Children’s Play and Community Cohesion in Blackburn’, Play Today, Issue 71 (Autumn 2010)                                                  

‘Happily Ever After? Children’s Play in Mixed Communities’, Sociology Review, Vol. 20 No. 4 (2011)

‘Community cohesion and children’s play: a new conceptual framework’, Education 3-13, Vol.41 No.3 (2013)

‘Community Cohesion in post-16 education: Principles and Practice’, Educational Research, Vol. 55 No.3 (2013) 

‘Research in mixed communities: Teaching Methods at AS Level using case studies’ (co-written with Patrick Robinson), The Sociology Teacher (Journal of the British Sociological Association Teaching Group), Vol.3 No.2 (Spring 2014)

‘Debt management among higher education students: Strategies for averting anxiety’, Education Magazine, http://www.education-magazine.co.uk (co-authored with Cheryl McElroy), June 2014              

‘The impact of debt on current and prospective higher education students’, Education Magazine, 3rd edition, (co-authored with Cheryl McElroy), September 2014

‘Using Triangulation in Research’, Sociology Review, Vol. 25 No. 1 (2015)  

‘Multicultural Education in the UK’, Sociology Review, Vol. 26 No.1 (2016)

‘Children’s Play and the Effects on Community’, Primary First: The Journal for Primary Schools, Issue 17 (Winter 2016)

Industry Experience

1987-1989 Part-time Lecturer in Sociology, Blackburn College                       

1987-1990 Part-time Lecturer in Sociology, Accrington & Rossendale College

1990-2001 Full-time Lecturer in Sociology, Accrington & Rossendale College, Higher Education Leader for BA(Hons) programmes validated by UCLAN and the University of Sheffield

2001 to 2005: Head of Sociology: St Mary’s RC Sixth Form College, Blackburn

August 2005 to August 2007: Academic Researcher, University of Lancaster (community cohesion investigation in East Lancashire funded by the Home Office)

August 2007 to date: Lecturer in Sociology (Higher Education) University Centre at Blackburn College

Teaching Programmes

FdA Public Service Management (all pathways)

BA (Hons) Public Service Management

BA (Hons) Positive Practice and Young People

BA (Hons) Care Practice