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Professor Stephen J Macdonald

Professor of Social Work

BSc, Cert-Ed, MSc, PhD, FHEA

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Professor of Social Work in the Department of Sociology  


Stephen is the Academic Director for the Master of Social Work programme. He joined Durham University in 2021 and has researched in the field of Disability Studies, Criminology, and Adult Social Work since 2001. In 2006 he completed a PhD in Sociology (Disability Studies) at Newcastle University. Before joining Durham University, Stephen was a Professor in Social Science and was Head of the Centre of Applied Social Sciences (CASS) at the University of Sunderland. Stephen’s research crosses disciplinary boundaries and he applies theoretical perspectives that emerge from within Disability Studies to that of Criminology and Adult Social Work. His recent research explores experiences of day-to-day violence experienced by disabled populations. He has published in the areas of 'disability hate crime', 'disability mate crime and cuckooing', and 'disability community victimisation (i.e. hate relationships)'. Alongside Stephen’s research in the field of victimisation, he conducts research in the field of criminality with neurodivergent ex-offenders that have desisted. Stephen primarily explores the intersections between disability and social deprivation. Examples of some of the projects he has led on are, ‘disability, loneliness and isolation’, ‘mental health and confinement’, ‘digital inclusion and exclusion’, ‘disability hate crime’, ‘disability, cuckooing and county lines’, ‘neurodiversity and homelessness’, ‘dyslexia and policing’, ‘disabled people’s experiences in police custody’, and ‘neurodiversity and pathways into offending’. Stephen has also published in the field of Disability Studies and Social Work Theory. He is the co-author of the textbook ‘Social Work Theory and Practice’. In practice, Stephen worked in the field of dementia care in hospitals/residential settings.

Research Themes

Criminal Justice, Social Harms and Inequalities

Communities and Social Justice

Research interests

  • Disability and Victimisation
  • Disability and Criminality
  • Disability and Social Harm
  • Disability and Adult Safeguarding
  • Disability Studies and Social Work Theory
  • Dyslexia and Neurodiversity Studies

Esteem Indicators


Authored book

  • Deacon, L. & Macdonald, S.J. (2017). Social Work Theory and Practice. Sage.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2010). Dyslexia and Crime: A Social Model Approach. VDM Ltd.
  • Macdonald, S J. (2009). Towards a Sociology of Dyslexia: Exploring Links Between Dyslexia, Disability and Social Class. VDM Ltd.

Chapter in book

  • Clayton, John. Donovan, Catherine. & Macdonald, Stephen. J. (2022). Becoming visible, becoming vulnerable? Bodies, material spaces, and affective economies of hate. In Landscapes of Hate: Spaces of abjection, discrimination and exclusion. Hall, E. Clayton, John. & Donovan, Catherine. Bristol University Press.
  • Macdonald, SJ. & Deacon, L. (2019). Disability Theory and Social Work Practice. In THE ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL WORK THEORY. Payne, M. & Hall, M R. Routledge.
  • Deacon, L. & Macdonald, S J. (2017). Psychotherapy, Social Work and the Conflicted Self. In SOCIAL WORK THEORY AND PRACTICE. SAGE Publications.
  • Macdonald, S J. (2017). Five Models of Disability. In SOCIAL WORK THEORY AND PRACTICE. Macdonald, S J. & Deacon, L. SAGE Publications.
  • Macdonald, S J. (2017). Cognitive Psychology and Social Work Practice. In SOCIAL WORK THEORY AND PRACTICE. Deacon, L. & Macdonald, S J. SAGE Publications.
  • Macdonald, S J. (2017). Behaviourism and the Science of Control. In SOCIAL WORK THEORY AND PRACTICE. Deacon, L. & Macdonald, S J. SAGE Publications.
  • Macdonald, S J. (2017). Humanistic Psychology, Free will and Social Work Practice. In SOCIAL WORK THEORY AND PRACTICE. Deacon, L. & Macdonald, S.J. SAGE Publications.
  • Roulstone, A., Sheldon, A. & Harris, J. (2016). Disability and the Digital Divide. In DISABILITY AND TECHNOLOGY. Routledge.
  • Clayton, John, Macdonald, Stephen J, Smith, Peter & Wilcock, Angela (2015). The Impact of Digital Inclusion Initiatives in a Civic Context. In Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Third Edition. IGI Global. 6863.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2015). 'The invisibles': Conceptualising the intersectional relationships between dyslexia, social exclusion and homelessness. In DISABILITY RESEARCH TODAY: INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES. Shakespeare, T. Routledge. 112-132.
  • Macdonald, S. (2014). York retreat. In A COMPANION TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE, MENTAL HEALTH AND RISK. Bristol:. Taylor, P., Corteen, K. & Morley, S. The Policy Press.
  • Clayton, J. & Macdonald, S.J. (2013). The Limits OF Technology: Social class, occupation and digital inclusion in the city of Sunderland, England. In Information, Communication & Society. Taylor & Francis Online. 16: 945-966.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2013). The right to be labelled: From risk to rights for pupils with dyslexia in 'special needs' education. In CONSTRUCTING RISKY IDENTITIES: CONSEQUENCES FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE. Kearney, J. & Donovan, C. Palgrave. 55-72.

Journal Article


  • Clayton, J., Donovan, C., Macdonald, S.J., Cosmina, U. & Knight, M. (2021). Exploring ‘hate relationships’ through Connected Voice’s Hate Crime Advocacy Service. Durham University.
  • Macdonald S.J. & Taylor-Gooby, D. (2010). Evaluation of Patient Involvement in Primary Care Trusts in East Durham. Department of Health.
  • Clayton, J., Macdonald, S.J. & Wilcock, A. (2010). Digital Challenge Evaluation. Sunderland: Department of Community and Local Government. Department of Community and Local Government.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Clayton, J. Donovan, C. & Macdonald, S.J. (2016). Exploring third party reporting across categories of hate in Tyne and Wear. NORTH EAST RACE EQUALITY FORUM 9: 1-4.

Supervision students