Prof Paul Johnson



  • BA (Hons) (Durham)
  • MA (Durham)
  • PhD (Newcastle)
  • PGCAP (Surrey)

After leaving school at 16 and spending 5 years working in various jobs (and a few periods of unemployment) I went to Derwentside College in Consett to study for a Higher Education Foundation Course (an access course). From there I went to the University of Durham and graduated in 1997 with a BA in Sociology and Social Policy. I stayed in Durham to complete an MA and then obtained a PhD from the University of Newcastle in 2002. I worked in the School of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Durham from 2002, and from 2006 I was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey. I moved to York in 2012 as Anniversary Reader in Sociology and was subsequently promoted to a personal chair.

Departmental roles

I am a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow for the academic year 2015/16 and will be on leave from teaching and administrative duties in the Department.

I will be spending most of the academic year carrying out a research project called "Going to Strasbourg" which will involve collecting the oral histories of people in the UK who have taken complaints about sexual orientation discrimination to the European Court of Human Rights. A book from the project will be published by Oxford University Press in due course.

Full details of the research can be found here.

University roles

I sit on the University Special Cases Committee



My current research is concerned with a number of broad questions about the relationship between law, human rights, sexual orientation and intimacy. I have a general interest in the role and purpose of law in promoting (and protecting) particular kinds of sexuality and human relationships.

My recent socio-legal publications have focused on aspects of law and social control in the national jurisdictions of the United Kingdom and Australia as well as on the regional jurisdictions of Africa and Europe.

I recently finished researching and writing a monograph, with Dr. Robert Vanderbeck at the University of Leeds, called Law, Religion and Homosexuality that was published by Routledge in May 2014.

I have a specific interest in the European Convention on Human Rights and my study of the European Court of Human Rights was published in 2013 by Routledge. In this respect, I currently maintain the ECHR Sexual Orientation Blog which provides up to date information on issues relating to sexual orientation in Council of Europe states. 

Current projects

I am currently engaged in the following two research projects:

‘Going to Strasbourg’: an oral history of human rights litigation in the European Court of Human Rights

The aim of this research is to provide an understanding of the motivations and aspirations of people in the UK who have made complaints in the European Court of Human Rights about sexual orientation discrimination.

Based on qualitative, oral history interviews with men and women that have pursued diverse complaints from the 1970s to the present day (relating to, for example, the criminalization of homosexual acts, the prohibition on homosexuality in the armed forces, and discrimination in economic benefits) the research will result in a unique archive of first-hand accounts of human rights litigation.  

I plan to collect together edited versions of transcripts produced from the interviews and publish them in a book (to be published by Oxford University Press) and to produce short audio files from the interview material and publish these on a project website. 

The research is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship.

Faith in Policing: The Co-Production of Crime Control

The participation of faith groups in aspects of crime control has become seen as a way of increasing efficiency, promoting accountability, and improving trust and confidence in policing. Although the relationship between faith and policing is a key aspect of contemporary political discourse, very little is known about the interaction between constabularies and faith groups or the extent of the impact of this interaction on crime control.

This research, drawing on qualitative interviews with police service personnel, aims to examine how police officers understand faith and its place in policing, recognise and respond to the needs of faith groups, and work with faith groups to mobilise crime prevention activity at the local level.

In providing an understanding of the role of faith in policing the research will make a broader contribution to knowledge about the relationship between civil society and contemporary policing, inform debates about social inequality and accountability, and support the development of policy and practice.

The research is funded by a British Academy Small Grant and is being conducted in collaboration with Prof. Karen Bullock at the University of Surrey. 




Full publications list


Edited Book

  • Johnson, P. and Dalton, D. (2012) Policing Sex. London: Routledge.

Articles in peer-reviewed journals 

  • Johnson, P (2015) '"The choice of wording must be regarded as deliberate": same-sex marriage and Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights'. European Law Review. 40(2): 207-224. 
  • Johnson, P (2015) '"Homosexual propaganda" laws in the Russian Federation: are they in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights?'. Russian Law Journal. 3(2): 37-61
  • Vanderbeck, R.M. and Johnson, P. (2015) 'Religion, homosexuality and the contested legal framework governing sex education in England'. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. 37(2): 161-179
  • Johnson, P. (2015) 'Marriage, heteronormativity and the European Court of Human Rights: a reappraisal'. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. 29(1): 56-77.
  • Johnson, P. (2014) 'Making unjust law: the Parliament of Uganda and the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014'. Parliamentary Affairs. Published in advance on-line access. 
  • Johnson, P. (2014) 'Sociology and the European Court of Human Rights'. The Sociological Review. 62(3): 547-564.
  • Johnson, P. (2014) 'Pornography and the European Convention on Human Rights'. Porn Studies. 1(3): 315-336.
  • Johnson, P. (2013) 'Homosexuality and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: what can be learned from the history of the European Convention on Human Rights?'. Journal of Law and Society. 40(2): 249-279. 
  • Johnson, P. (2012) ‘Adoption, homosexuality and the European Convention on Human Rights: Gas and Dubois v France’. Modern Law Review. 75(6): 1136-1149.
  • Bullock, K. and Johnson, P. (2012) ‘The impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on Policing in England and Wales’. British Journal of Criminology. 52(3): 630-650.
  • Johnson, P. (2012) 'Heteronormativity and the European Court of Human Rights'. Law and Critique. 23(1): 43-66.
  • Johnson, P. (2011) 'Homosexuality, freedom of assembly, and the margin of appreciation doctrine of the European Court of Human Rights: Alekseyev v Russia'. Human Rights Law Review. 11(3): 578-593.
  • Johnson, P. (2011) 'Challenging the heteronormativity of marriage: the role of judicial interpretation and authority'. Social and Legal Studies. 20(3): 349-367.
  • Johnson, P. & Vanderbeck, R.M. (2011) '"Hit them on the nose": representations of policing in Parliamentary debates about incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation'. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. 5(1): 65-74.
  • Vanderbeck, R.M. & Johnson, P. (2011) '"If a charge was brought against a saintly religious leader whose intention was to save souls…": an analysis of UK Parliamentary debates over incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation'. Parliamentary Affairs. 64(4): 652-673.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘The Enforcement of Morality: Law, Policing and Sexuality in New South Wales’. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. 43(3): 399-422.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘Law, morality and disgust: the regulation of “extreme pornography” in England and Wales’. Social and Legal Studies. 19(2): 147-164.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘”An essentially private manifestation of human personality”: constructions of homosexuality in the European Court of Human Rights’. Human Rights Law Review. 10(1): 67-97.
  • Johnson, P. (2010) ‘What is love without mourning? Male intimacies and cultures of loss’. Journal for Cultural Research. 14(2): 176-196.
  • Johnson, P. and Vanderbeck, R.M. (2009) ‘A response to “Islamic marital order and the threats of homosexuality in Nigeria”’. Journal for Faith, Spirituality and Social Change. 2(1): 1-7.
  • Johnson, P. (2008) ‘”Crimes against morality”: law and public sex in Australia’. Alternative Law Journal. 33(3): 155-159.
  • Johnson, P. (2008) ‘”Rude boys”: the homosexual eroticization of class’. Sociology. 42(1): 65-82.
  • Johnson, P. (2007) ‘”Ordinary Folk and Cottaging”: Law, Morality and Public Sex’. Journal of Law and Society. 34(4): 520-543. (Reprinted in The Library of Essays on Sexuality and Law, volume II: Crime and Punishment, edited by Robson, R., 2011, Ashgate). 
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2007) ‘Internationalising New Technologies of Crime Control: Forensic DNA Databasing and Datasharing in the European Union’. Policing and Society. 17(2): 103-118.
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2007) ‘European securitization and biometric identification: the uses of genetic profiling’.  Ann Ist Super Sanità. 43(1): 36-43. (Reprinted in Biometrics: Techno-Legal Issues, edited by Bhavani, M.N., 2008, Punjagutta: Icfai University Press).
  • Williams, R. & Johnson, P. (2005) ‘Inclusiveness, Effectiveness and Intrusiveness: Issues in the Developing Uses of DNA Profiling in Support of Criminal Investigations’. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. 33(3): 545-558. (Reprinted in Special Issue of Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 2006, 34(2): 234-247).
  • Johnson, P. & Lawler, S. (2005) ‘Coming home to love and class’. Sociological Research Online. 10(3).
  • Johnson, P. (2004) ‘Haunting Heterosexuality: The Homo/Het Binary and Intimate Love’. Sexualities. 7(2): 183-200.
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2004) ‘Post-conviction testing: the UK's first “exoneration” case?’. Science and Justice. 44(2): 77-82.
  • Johnson, P. & Williams, R. (2004) ‘DNA and Crime Investigation: Scotland and the “UK National DNA Database”’. Scottish Journal of Criminal Justice Studies. 10: 71-85.
  • Williams, R. & Johnson, P. (2004) ‘Circuits of Surveillance’. Surveillance and Society. 2(1): 1-14.
  • Williams, R & Johnson, P. (2004) ‘”Wonderment and Dread”: Representations of DNA in Ethical Disputes about Forensic DNA Databases’. New Genetics and Society. 23(2): 205-223.
  • Johnson, P. , Martin, P. & Williams, R. (2003) ‘Genetics and Forensics: Making the National DNA Database’. Science Studies. 16(2): 22-37.

Shorter articles

Book Chapters

  • Johnson, P (2015) 'Beliefs about the European Court of Human Rights in the UK Parliament'. In Amatrudo, A & Rauxloh, R. (eds.) Law in Popular Belief: Myth and Reality. Manchester: Manchester UP. (in press)
  • Johnson, P. (2013) 'Hate Crime'. In Brown, J (ed.) The Future of Policing. Abingdon: Routledge.  
  • Johnson, P. (2012) ‘The enforcers of morality?’. In Johnson, P. and Dalton, D. (eds.) Policing Sex. London: Routledge.
  • Williams, R. & Johnson, P. (2007) ‘Captured Identities: Bodies, Biometrics and Criminal Investigations’. In Newburn, T. et al. (eds.) The Handbook of Criminal Investigations. Cullompton: Willan Press.
  • Johnson, P. (2006) ‘Subjectivity and sociality in the films of Andrei Tarkovsky’. In Jonsson, G.A. & Ottarsson, T.A. (eds.) Through the Mirror: Reflections on the Films of Andrei Tarkovsky. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press Ltd.

Review articles

  • Johnson, P. (2005) ‘Improvisation and Constraint: New Work by Judith Butler’. Sociology. 39(4): 755-759.
  • Johnson, P. (2001) ‘The histories of sexuality: the future of debate’. Social Epistemology. 15(2): 127-137.

Published reports



Contact details

Prof. Paul Johnson
Department of Sociology
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 322624



I am not teaching in the 2015/16 academic year.