After a first degree in psychology he trained and worked as a clinical psychologist in the NHS before becoming a lecturer and taking a PhD in sociology.
At the University of East London he led the establishment of psychosocial studies as an interdisciplinary teaching programme and research paradigm, while researching and writing in a number of areas including popular culture, therapeutic culture, advertising, consumer behaviour, political leadership, and the rise of 'therapeutic' culture.
In recent years he has been developing a psychosocial approach to the study of violent extremism and fundamentalism, and its complement in the study of the bases of shared identities and social cohesion. He has also been involved in research on emotion in political communication, and on journalism and emotional literacy. From 2007 to 2010 he served as Deputy Dean of the Media School.