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Prof Matthew Johnson


Department: Social Sciences

I am Professor of Politics at Northumbria University, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and founding Editor of Global Discourse. I have led a number of engagement-rich, high-impact, interdisciplinary and international projects. I have secured over £2m to fund this work, focusing most recently on examination of the public health case for Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a means of mitigating health inequalities. My work is centrally concerned with addressing issues of inequality, social justice and exclusion both in my native North East and beyond.

I have a commitment to participatory research and have led a number of co-produced and co-directed projects, including an international, interdisciplinary, participatory study entitled ‘A Cross-cultural Working Group on “Good Culture” and Precariousness’, which involved a research network of over 30 academics and embedded exchanges between community members from Ashington, Northumberland and Aboriginal groups around Brisbane. Two films covering the project have been produced by Brightmoon Media. My work has also been covered on the BBC One Show and Al Jazeera and in The Independent and elsewhere. I am a regular contributor to national and international media.

I am a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, have twice been nominated for a National Teaching Fellowship, and have taught at the Universities of Newcastle, Queensland, Iceland and York. I was the founder and co-ordinator of the Association for Academic Outreach (AfAO), which facilitates research, development and dissemination of outreach good practice by and for academics.

Matthew Johnson

My research converges around the relationship between material conditions, public policy and wellbeing, leading me to examine such diverse topics as: Universal Basic Income and its effect on public health; genital cutting and invasive practices, and Widening Participation and Higher Education outreach.

At present, I am leading a multidisciplinary team examining the health case for Universal Basic Income. This Wellcome Trust funded project examines the potential of the policy to advance public health in the wake of a decade of austerity and in the middle of a global pandemic at a time in which policy makers are both more aware than ever of the need for public health measures and less able than ever to deploy traditional means to deal with the crisis.

We have made key contributions to five areas of the debate by: 1) mapping out pathways to health through a model of impact developed from existing evidence that suggests broader, cascading benefits than previously asserted within the literature; 2) identifying deficits in previous evaluations that have prevented accurate measurement of health impact and developing research protocols in response; 3) developing a method of modelling through dynamic microsimulation that suggests the long-term positive economic impact of the policy from savings in health budgets and increased productivity may make a generous UBI affordable; 4) demonstrating that public support for the policy is much higher than politicians believe by deploying behavioural science to examine trends in perceptions and, 5) presenting the first examination of the ethics of deploying UBI to promote health.

In addition to my monograph, Evaluating Culture: Wellbeing, Institutions and Circumstance (Palgrave), I have written about the following clusters of issues:

The health case for Universal Basic Income in British Journal of Politics and International RelationsPLOS ONEBritish Politics, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, Humanities and Social Science Communications, Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology, Journal of Medical Ethics, Journal of Public Health, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Evidence & Policy, Basic Income Studies, Social Theory & Health

Invasive cultural practices and genital cutting in American Journal of Bioethics, Journal of Medical Ethics, Ethnicities

Evaluating cultural commitments and their impact on wellbeing in International Politics, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Australian Journal of Political Science, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Educational Theory, Social Indicators Research

Engagement, Widening Participation and Outreach in Studies in Higher EducationBritish Journal of Educational Studies, Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, Journal of Political Science Education, Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, British Journal of Educational Studies

I am the founding editor of the journal, Global Discourse (Bristol University Press), edit the associated book series and have edited several other collections, including The Legacy of Marxism (Bloomsbury).

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Are ‘red wall’ constituencies really opposed to progressive policy? Examining the impact of materialist narratives for Universal Basic Income, Johnson, M., Johnson, E., Nettle, D. 1 Mar 2023, In: British Politics
  • Designing a generic, adaptive protocol resource for the measurement of health impact in cash transfer pilot and feasibility studies and trials in high-income countries, Johnson, E., Johnson, M., Kypridemos, C., Villadsen, A., Pickett, K. 23 Mar 2023, In: Pilot and Feasibility Studies
  • Understanding the relationship between income and mental health among 16- to 24-year-olds: Analysis of 10 waves (2009-2020) of Understanding Society to enable modelling of income interventions, Parra-Mujica, F., Johnson, E., Reed, H., Cookson, R., Johnson, M. 28 Feb 2023, In: PLoS One
  • Can the ‘downward spiral’ of material conditions, mental health and faith in government be stopped? Evidence from surveys in ‘red wall’ constituencies, Johnson, M., Johnson, E., Reed, H., Nettle, D. 10 Jan 2023, In: British Journal of Politics and International Relations
  • Universal Basic Income is affordable and feasible: evidence from UK economic microsimulation modelling, Reed, H., Johnson, M., Lansley, S., Johnson, E., Stark, G., Pickett, K. 1 Feb 2023, In: Journal of Poverty and Social Justice

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Invited talk: RSA Report Launch: Levelling the Mental Health Gradient in Young People: How Universal Basic Income can address the crisis in anxiety and depression 2022
  • Invited talk: The Health Dividend: The Potential of Unconditional Basic Income in Addressing Health Inequities 2023
  • Invited talk: Pathways to health for them and for us 2021
  • Invited talk: Universal Basic Income: Pathway to a healthy society? 2021
  • Invited talk: Expert Testimony: Catholicism and anti-domination: the institutional case for UBI 2021

Kathryn Loosemore The role of public opinion in the fortunes of ETA Start Date: 01/10/2022


My work has been covered by the The IndependentFinancial Times, The IndependentAl Jazeera, the BBC and various other newspapers and outlets.

I have contributed essays to Foreign AffairsThe ABCThe ConversationJournal of Medical Ethics Blog and London Economic.

I have been interviewed on, among other things, Universal Basic Income, British politics, regional politics in the North East and North West, Aboriginal politics, cultural diversity. I previously provided BBC Radio General Election night analysis. I am more than happy to be interviewed on the broad topics outlined under ‘research interests’ above.


  • Academic Studies in Education PGCert May 01 2015
  • Politics PhD March 12 2010
  • Psychology PGDip October 01 2008
  • Politics MA October 01 2005
  • Politics BA (Hons) July 01 2004
  • Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PR164421) PFHEA 2019
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PR143181) SFHEA 2018
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PR080095) FHEA 2015

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