UoB Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Robert MacDonald, Teeside University

Youth poverty and the life course in the UK

Dates of visit: 14 - 16th November, 21 - 23 January and March 2019 tbc

‌Professor MacDonald has research and teaching interests that span across Sociology, Social Policy, Criminology and Youth Studies. He has worked and studied at the universities of York and Durham. He worked at Teesside University for 25 years, where he was conferred as Professor in 2002 and led the internationally renowned Teesside Studies of Youth Transitions and Social Exclusion. He has published widely about issues to do with inequality and social change, young people and youth transitions, work and unemployment, social exclusion and poverty, changing local labour markets, and drug and criminal careers. His books include Risky Business? Youth and the Enterprise Culture (1991), Youth, the Underclass and Social Exclusion (1997), Disconnected Youth? Growing up in Britain’s Poor Neighbourhoods (2005), Poverty and Insecurity: Life in Low-Pay, No-Pay Britain (2012). With colleagues he has won the British Academy Peter Townsend Prize and the Sociological Review Prize for Outstanding Scholarship. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Editor in Chief (joint) of the Journal of Youth Studies and is currently Visiting Professor at Aalborg and at Monash Universities

During his stay Dr MacDonald will be hosted by Dr Edin Fahmy (School of Policy Studies).


‘Yetis, Zombies & Voodoo Sociology: 25 years of Youth Research on Teesside, North East England’
Benjamin Meaker Public Lecture, 22nd January 2018, 5.15pm Lecture Theatre 2D3 Priory Road Complex

This paper summarises in toto the thematic findings from 25+ years of our Teesside Studies of Youth Transitions and Social Exclusion. In doing so it charts how young people make transitions to adulthood in times of socio-economic change, under inauspicious social, economic, political and policy conditions and in a place (Teesside, North East England) that has high levels of multiple deprivation.

The analysis shows the ineptitude of ‘the voodoo sociology’ and weak versions of ‘social exclusion’ that infect much policy thinking; for example, that insists the answer lies in fixing the pathologies of ‘workless families’ where ‘no-one has had a job for three generations’, or  ‘raising the aspirations’ of a ‘youth underclass’, or the fragmented, degraded work of the ‘gig economy’.

Instead, the paper insists on the necessity of a developed analysis of history and geography, the uneven development of late Capitalism and the active processes and decisions that result in the economic marginality of places and populations.

Register for a free place here.

‘Looking South: what Youth Studies in the Global North can learn from research about young people in the South and East Mediterranean Countries’

This is a new paper that seeks to draw on learning from the EUF7 ‘Power to Youth’ research programme and combine it with theory and research from the UK and elsewhere in the Global North. 

‘Confronting the Crisis: Youth Transitions, Social Mobility and Precarious Futures’
This paper contains some of Prof. MacDonald’s main current research interests – about the longer-term transitions of young adults, including from the ‘missing middle’ and the problems of graduate and wider un- and underemployment.

Departmental/ Graduate Student Seminars