Howard Williamson

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

Young people, youth work, social inclusion, citizenship, youth justice, Europe

Research interests

Howard Williamson has held academic research grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, various government departments and the European Commission, and practice grants from the National Lottery Charities Board for his ‘cottage project’ in Snowdonia, working with unemployed and excluded young people.

He has managed and conducted research projects for local, national and European organisations. His research work has been predominantly on youth issues, notably concerning youth work and youth training, but it has also addressed juvenile justice and youth crime, drug misuse, special needs housing, inter-agency partnerships, mini-enterprise in schools, local economic development and training for enterprise in Europe.

His primary research interests are around youth policy, citizenship and social exclusion, and the role of youth work in the personal development and social integration of young people.

Since the 1970s, he has conducted over 70 research studies on young people.  Relatively recently, this has included: action research with schools around alternative key stage 4 curricula, an evaluation of the Home Office On Track initiative, a formative evaluation of a police-led schools curriculum on drugs, crime and personal safety; and a European funded collaborative research project on youth behaviour in public space (with research institutions in Austria, Estonia and Finland).  He co-ordinated the Council of Europe youth policy reviews of 21 countries between 1997 and 2016, and co-edited the seven-volume History of Youth Work in Europe series.  His most significant research study, however, remains that of the ‘Milltown Boys’, a group of young men he first studied, through participant observation methods, 50 years ago.  His first book about them (Five Years, National Youth Bureau 1981) covered their teenage lives.  He interviewed them when they were 40 ( The Milltown Boys Revisited, Berg 2004) and again when they were 60 (The Milltown Boys at Sixty: The origins and destinations of young men from a poor neighbourhood, Routledge 2021).  He has recently published other books on European youth policy, the disruption of youth transitions to autonomy on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an Advanced Introduction to Youth Studies. Currently he is working on an inquiry into youth work strategies across Europe. and a comprehensive reflection on the evolution of youth work throughout Europe over the past 50 years.

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 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

BSc (Econ)


External positions

Visiting Professor, Victoria University

2018 → …

Visiting Professor, Allameh Tabataba'i University

2016 → …

Visiting lecturer, University of Rennes

2015 → …

Visiting Professor, Academy of Youth Research, China Youth University of Political Sciences

2014 → …

Visiting Fellow, Institute of Social Research, Zagreb

2013 → …

Affliliate Professor, University of Malta

2010 → …

Visiting Professor, University of Malta

2009 → …

Visiting Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong

2007 → …

Guest Professor, University of Copenhagen


Lecturer in Social Policy and Senior Research Associate, Cardiff University

Visiting Professor, University of Hertfordshire


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