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Professor Stephen Macdonald

Professor of Social Work

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

Chapter in book

Journal Article


Other (Print)

Supervision students