McAllister is a sociologist by training. His main research interests are in the sociology of religion, community studies and in interdisciplinary peace and conflict studies. The focus of his most recent academic work was the intersection of religion and politics, particularly the conflict in Northern Ireland. Since retiring in 2006, McAllister has been actively applying his sociological practice to his local community. In 2009, he co-founded the York Community Dialogue, a grassroots organization encouraging civic engagement. McAllister also chairs the Town’s Parks and Recreation Board and the York Village Study Committee.