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Prof Stephen Macdonald

Professor of Social Work

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Professor of Social Work in the Department of Sociology  


Stephen is the Programme Co-Director for the Master of Social Work programme and he convenes the Year 1 module ‘Social Work in Practice’. Stephen has researched in the field of social work and criminology for over 16 years. 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. In practice, Stephen worked in the field of dementia care in hospitals/residential settings across the region. He has taught modules including, Medicine as Culture: Disability, Institutionalisation and Confinement; Research and Practice in Social Work; Principles and Practices in Social Work; Community Care for Disabled Adults; Working in Organisations of Care; Psychology, Human Growth and Development in Social Work. His research explores the relationship between disability and social deprivation. An example of some of the projects he has led are, ‘disability, loneliness and isolation’, ‘mental health and confinement’, ‘digital inclusion and exclusion’, ‘disability hate crime’, ‘disability, cuckooing and county lines’, ‘neurodiversity and homelessness’, ‘disabled people’s experiences in police custody’, and ‘neurodiversity and pathways into offending’. Stephen has also published widely in the field of Disability Studies and Social Work Theory. He is the co-author for the textbook ‘Social Work Theory and Practice’.

Stephen is the Programme Co-Director for the Master of Social Work programme and he convenes the Year 1 module ‘Social Work in Practice’. Stephen has researched in the field of social work and criminology for over 16 years. He has published broadly in the areas of disability and social exclusion, including issues concerning diagnosis, disengagement, digital exclusion, crime, victimisation, loneliness/isolation, and homelessness. Stephen’s research is underpinned by social models of disability. He has also published widely in the field of Social Work Theory. Stephen is the co-author for the textbook ‘Social Work Theory and Practice’.


Authored book

  • Macdonald, S.J. (2015). 'The invisibles': Conceptualising the intersectional relationships between dyslexia, social exclusion and homelessness.
  • Macdonald, S. (2014). York retreat.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2013). The right to be labelled: From risk to rights for pupils with dyslexia in 'special needs' education.

Journal Article

  • Clayton, J., Donovan, C. & Macdonald, S. (2021). Living with hate relationships: familiar encounters, enduring racisms and geographies of entrapment. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
  • Macdonald, S.J., Donovan, C. & Clayton, J. (2021). ‘I may be left with no choice but to end my torment’ disability and intersectionalities of hate crime. Disability and Society
  • Macdonald, S.J., Peacock, D., Cosgrove, F. & Podd, W. (2021). ‘The silence’ examining the missing voices of disabled people in police custody. Disability and Society 36(1): 19-37.
  • Lid, I.M., Katsui, H., McLaughlin, J., Macdonald, S., Ljuslinder, K. & Tarvainen, M. (2021). Interdisciplinary disability research in the time of a pandemic. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research 23(1): 207-208.
  • Deacon, L., Macdonald, S.J. & Donaghue, J. (2020). “What’s wrong with you, are you stupid?” Listening to the biographical narratives of adults with dyslexia in an age of ‘inclusive’ and ‘anti-discriminatory’ practice. Disability and Society
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2020). Therapeutic institutions of violence: conceptualising the biographical narratives of mental health service users/survivors accessing long term “treatment” in England. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice 7(2): 179-194.
  • Macdonald, S.J. & Deacon, L. (2019). Twice upon a time: Examining the effect socio-economic status has on the experience of dyslexia in the United Kingdom. Dyslexia 25(1): 3-19.
  • Donovan, C., Clayton, J. & Macdonald, S.J. (2019). New Directions in Hate Reporting Research: Agency, Heterogeneity and Relationality. Sociological Research Online 24(2): 185-202.
  • Macdonald, S.J. & Cosgrove, F. (2019). Dyslexia and policing: Understanding the impact that dyslexia has in the police service in England and Wales. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 38(6): 634-651.
  • Deacon, L., Macdonald, S.J., Nixon, J., Akintola, A.R., Dore, S., Ellis, G., Gillingham, A., Highmore, L., Ismail, A., Kent, J., Matthews, D. & Sullivan, S. (2018). The loss: Conceptualising biographical experiences of disability, social isolation and emotional loneliness in North-East England. Social Work and Social Sciences Review 20(3): 68-87.
  • Macdonald, S.J., Nixon, J. & Deacon, L. (2018). ‘Loneliness in the city’ examining socio-economics, loneliness and poor health in the North East of England. Public Health 165: 88-94.
  • Macdonald, S.J., Deacon, L., Nixon, J., Akintola, A., Gillingham, A., Kent, J., Ellis, G., Mathews, D., Ismail, A., Sullivan, S., Dore, S. & Highmore, L. (2018). ‘The invisible enemy’ disability, loneliness and isolation. Disability and Society 33(7): 1138-1159.
  • Macdonald, S.J., Charnock, A. & Scutt, J. (2018). Marketing ‘madness’ conceptualising service user/survivor biographies in a period of deinstitutionalisation (1975–2014). Disability and Society 33(6): 849-865.
  • Macdonald, S.J., Charnock, A. & Scutt, J. (2017). Mad studies and social work: Conceptualising the subjectivities of service user/survivors who experience significant mental health problems. Social Work and Social Sciences Review 19(3): 98-118.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2015). ‘Community fear and harassment’ learning difficulties and hate crime incidents in the north-east of England. Disability and Society 30(3): 353-367.
  • MacDonald, S.J. & Taylor-Gooby, D. (2014). 'Patient zero': A critical investigation of the concept of public and patient involvement in the national health service. Social Work and Social Sciences Review 17(1): 5-21.
  • Macdonald, S.J. & Deacon, L. (2014). ‘No sanctuary’ Missed opportunities in health and social services for homeless people with dyslexia? Social Work and Social Sciences Review 17(3): 78-93.
  • Clayton, J. & Macdonald, S.J. (2013). THE LIMITS OF TECHNOLOGY: Social class, occupation and digital inclusion in the city of Sunderland, England. Information Communication and Society 16(6): 945-966.
  • Macdonald, S.J. & Clayton, J. (2013). Back to the future, disability and the digital divide. Disability and Society 28(5): 702-718.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2012). Biographical pathways into criminality: Understanding the relationship between dyslexia and educational disengagement. Disability and Society 27(3): 427-440.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2010). Towards a social reality of dyslexia. British Journal of Learning Disabilities 38(4): 271-279.
  • Macdonald, S.J. (2009). Windows of reflection: Conceptualizing dyslexia using the social model of disability. Dyslexia 15(4): 347-362.

Supervision students