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Robert MacDonald

T:
01642 342351
Job title:
Professor of Sociology
E:
r.macdonald@tees.ac.uk
School/department:
School of Social Sciences, Business & Law
 
Research institute:
Social Futures Institute

About Robert MacDonald

Robert MacDonald

Robert MacDonald
Professor of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, Business & Law
T: 01642 342351
E: r.macdonald@tees.ac.uk
Research institute: Social Futures Institute

Having previously studied and worked at Durham and York universities, Robert MacDonald came to Teesside as a lecturer in 1992. He became Professor of Sociology in 2002.

Professor MacDonald co-founded the BSc (Hons) Youth Studies programme, the first of its type in the UK, and teaches across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in sociology, criminology and youth studies.

Professor MacDonald has a range of research leadership roles in the School of Social Sciences & Law and the University more widely. Currently he is deputy director of the Social Futures Institute.

Research interests

Professor MacDonald's research interests span sociology, criminology, social policy and youth studies and he has published in prestigious journals in all these fields. He is deputy editor of the Journal of Youth Studies.

Professor MacDonald was a founder member and the initial convenor of Teesside’s youth research unit and has been principal investigator or co-investigator on a series of five related projects that comprise the Teesside Studies of Youth Transitions and Social Exclusion.

Beginning in the late 1990s and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, these studies have examined the long-term transitions of young adults growing up in contexts of multiple deprivation and social exclusion. Recently, this extensive qualitative research has been used as the basis for critical engagement with sociological questions and social policy orthodoxies about the ‘low-pay, no-pay cycle’ and ‘intergenerational cultures of worklessness’. 

Professor MacDonald has also led a range of consultancy, evaluation and research projects with local and regional partners.

His books, as author, co-author and editor, include:

• Risky Business? Youth and the Enterprise Culture (1991)
• Youth, ‘the Underclass’ and Social Exclusion (1997)
• Snakes and Ladders (2000)
• Poor Transitions (2004)
• Disconnected Youth? Growing up in Britain’s Poor Neighbourhoods (2005)
• Drugs in Britain: Supply, Consumption and Control (2007)
• Young People, Class and Place (2010)
• Poverty and Insecurity: Life in Low-Pay, No-Pay Britain (2012)

Robert MacDonald is keen to supervise PhD students in the following general areas:

• Youth transitions, youth culture and identity
• Criminal and drug-using ‘careers’ and the criminology and sociology of desistance
• Social exclusion, worklessness and poverty
• The sociology of employment, unemployment and non-standard work
• Community studies (particularly in respect of Teesside) and the changing experience of economic life and social class

In the news

  • Global impact of Teesside Research
    Evening Gazette (Teesside) (2000 Vision), 07/12/2015
    Global impact of Teesside research work carried out at Teesside University is being showcased in a new campaign to highlight of academic research in UK and around the world.


  • Sociology lecturer talks about social mobiility
    BBC World Service, 12/11/2015
    Teesside Uiniversity lecturer, Rob MacDonald talks about social mobility.


  • Well off or not, skills are key
    Northern Echo, 02/07/2015; Northern Echo online, 03/07/2015
    Professor Rob MacDonald of Teesside University shows local industrial cultures leave a long shadow.


  • There are more real answers than stupid questions
    The Journal, 05/06/2015, pg 23
    Kate Fox comments - Rob MacDonald research.


  • Exploitation or an eye-opener?
    Northern Echo online, 04/06/2015, pg 14; Norther Echo, 04/06/2015
    Benefits Street: Exploitation or giving residents a voice?


  • Exploitation or an eye-opener?
    Northern Echo online, 04/06/2015, pg 14; Norther Echo, 04/06/2015
    Benefits Street: Exploitation or giving residents a voice?


  • The Power of Stupid Ideas: ‘Three Generations That Have Never Worked’
    Unity and Strength for Workers, 26/05/2015; Northern Echo, 27/05/2015
    Robert MacDonald co-founded the BSc (Hons) Youth Studies program at Teesside University, the first of its type in the UK, and teaches across undergraduate and postgraduate programs.


  • Don't bypass first film showing
    Evening GAzette, 18/04/2015, pg 12
    A film produced by a Teesside University academic and debuted at the 2014 Venice Film Festival can now be seen in Middlesbrough.


  • Lawyer's only job home in Spain: Hospital Orderly
    Free News Pos, 17/10/2014; Bloomberg News Online, 17/10/2014
    Sociologist at Teesside University comments on the level of unemployment.


  • The real world isn't like Benefits Street
    The Week, 20/09/2014, p.17
    Researchers from Teesside University spent months looking into the issue, concluding that the welfare ghetto is a myth.


  • Iain Duncan Smith and the tall tale of the feckless layabouts
    Guardian.com, 12/09/2014
    Writer and broadcaster Gavin Esler produced a book, Lessons From the Top, chronicling how some of the biggest names in politics and showbiz built their careers on the crafting of stories.


  • Benefit streets are all a myth
    Daily Star, 13/09/2014; Daily Star - Lancs, 13/09/2014; Daily Star of Scotland, 13/09/2014; The Evening Gazette, 13/09/2014; The Northern Echo, 13/09/2014;
    Areas of jobless scroungers like those depicted on TV's Benefits street are a myth.


  • Benefits Street culture: study rubbishes 'joblessness as a lifestyle' claim
    Guardian.com, 11/09/2014
    The idea of a Benefits Street-style culture of joblessness, with generations of families never having worked, appears not to be backed by any evidence, academics have concluded.


  • So-called 'welfare ghettos' with whole communities on benefites, are a myth, researchers say
    The Independent Online, 12/09/2014; I - Indpendent Online, 12/09/2014; The Guardian, 12/09/2014; The Independent, 12/09/2014; The Gazette Live - Online, 12/09/2014; EIN News, 12/09/2014; BBC News Online, 12/09/2014; Ukwirednews.com, 12/09/2014
    The idea of welfare ghettos where whole communities are workless is a myth, according to research by leading academics.


  • Excluded from working life
    Journal of the Norwegian Psychological Association, 01/01/2014
    Teesside University academic Professor Rob MacDonald comments at length in an article on labour market exclusion in a Norwegian publication.


  • Grim report reveals extent of child poverty in Middlesbrough
    Darlington & Stockton Times (Web), 29/11/2013; Northern Echo (North Edition), 29/11/2013, p.17
    Barnardo’s in Teesside recently received a grant of nearly £400,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to develop services in key wards in Middlesbrough, to help tackle some of these very issues, help struggli


  • Where there is a will is there always a way?
    Housing, 01/10/2013, p.32
    A study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation by Professors Robert MacDonald, Tracy Shildrick, from Teesside University and Andy Furlong, from Glasgow University, examined whether there really are 'three


  • 'We have a duty of care to vulnerable'
    Northern Echo (North Edition), 04/10/2013, p.55
    Dr Paul Crawshaw said the perception that the unemployed were feckless skivers was a myth, findings echoed recently by Professors Rob MacDonald and Tracy Shildrick, also from Teesside University.


  • Together Middlesbrough tackles poverty
    Darlington & Stockton Times (Web), 03/10/2013
    Heather Black, development officer for Together Middlesbrough, a joint venture between Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of York, presented a ‘Faith in Action’ survey which revealed that local churche


  • Middlesbrough has highest number of households in the country with no one working
    Gazette Live (Web), 05/09/2013
    Professor Rob MacDonald from Teesside University has carried out research in Middlesbrough to support a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which asks if there really are “three generations of f


  • Homeless News in the Press
    Downnotout (Web), 01/08/2013
    A book by Teesside University professors Rob MacDonald and Tracy Shildrick has been awarded the British Academy Peter Townsend Policy Press Prize for 2013.


  • Award Winning Book Exposes The Myth of The Benefit Scrounger
    Citizens' eye (Blog), 26/07/2013; Downnotout (Web), 26/07/2013; Yahoo! Singapore (Web), 26/07/2013; FinanzNachrichten.de (Web), 26/07/2013; PR Newswire UK (Web), 26/07/2013; MSN Money (Web), 26/07/2013
    A book by Teesside University professors Rob MacDonald and Tracy Shildrick has been awarded the British Academy Peter Townsend Policy Press Prize for 2013. Clare Horton wrote about the book in Society


  • Prize winning poverty book authors donate price money
    UK Fundraising (Web), 26/7/2013
    Two Teesside University professors, whose book on poverty in the UK has won an award, have donated their £2,000 prize to a charity helping people living in poverty.


  • Society daily
    guardian.co.uk (Web), 22/07/2013
    Teesside University professors Rob MacDonald and Tracy Shildrick whose book exposing the myth of the 'benefits scrounger' has been awarded the British Academy Peter Townsend Policy Press Prize.


  • Professor's co-authored book receives prestigious British Academy prize
    Leeds Metropolitan University (Web), 19/07/2013
    The Peter Townsend Policy Press Prize was awarded to Professor Webster alongside co-authors Professor Tracy Shildrick and Professor Robert MacDonald of Teesside University and Kayleigh Garthwaite of D


  • Is worklessness passed down the family?
    Liverpool Post, 11/07/2013
    Research carried out by academics at Teesside University and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has found that a culture of worklessness was not a good explanation for unemployemnt.


  • Study challenges workless 'myth'
    Liverpool Post Business Daily, 09/07/2013, p.5
    Carried out by academics at Teesside University, the study questioned unemployed people in Glasgow and Middlesbrough and found little evidence of three generations of the same family having never work


  • Poverty: Myths & Reality
    The Exeter Daily (Web), 09/05/2013
    Let’s check out some of the myths. There are hundreds of families where their members have been idle for generations. Teesside University surveyed 330 families in the poorest areas of Middlesbrough an


  • Government's assault on benefits hits workers too
    Salisbury Journal (Web), 18/04/2013; Salisbury Journal, 18/04/2013, p.29, Forest Journal, 18/04/2013, p.29
    Research by economist David Blanchflower reveals that while unemployment has not exploded as was feared after the crash, there has been a ballooning of underemployment with an increase in part time an


  • Government using increasingly loaded language in welfare debate
    The Guardian (Web); 5/4/2013
    The government is increasingly using value-laden and pejorative language when discussing benefits and welfare, a Guardian analysis has found, something poverty charities warn is likely to increase the


  • Benefit attitudes
    Evening Gazette, 25/03/2013, p.18
    A recent study from Teesside University dispelled that myth when academics were unable to find families with three generations in which no-one had ever worked.


  • Dower of the people
    New Statesman, 22/03/2013, p.10; New Statesman, 22/03/2013, p.4; New Statesman, 22/03/2013, p.20
    Studies recently concluded by Teesside University of 300 families in the poorest areas of Middlesbrough and Glasgow found only one family that had had three generations of unemployed.


  • COLUMN: Kevin Rowan - Poundland exposes job policy
    NEBusiness.co.uk (Web), 19/02/2013
    Few people would argue that those in the latter category of receiving benefits, those looking for work, should be encouraged and supported to do so. As the work done by Rob MacDonald at Teesside Unive


  • Poundland exposes job policy
    NEBusiness.co.uk (Web), 18/02/2013
    Few people would argue that those in the latter category of receiving benefits, those looking for work, should be encouraged and supported to do so. As the work done by Rob MacDonald at Teesside Unive


  • Poundland exposes job policy
    The Journal, 18/02/2013, p.26
    Most people appreciate that there are two broad categories of welfare support. There is a basic minimum safety net for those who through disability or incapacity are simply unable to work, whatever op


  • Report of the welfare system
    BBC 1 Look North, 12/02/2013
    A news feature focusing on the welfar system includes comment from Professor Rob MacDonald, from Teesside University's School of Social Sciences & Law.


  • Teesside University comment
    BBC Radio Tees, Ali Brownlee, 12/02/2013, 08:03:15
    Professor Robert McDonald's from Teesside University comments on the public's view of people on benefits.


  • Prof speaks out
    Evening Gazette, 24/01/2013, p.16
    A Teesside University professor whose study showed the "myth" of three generations of families living on benefits will take her research to Northern Ireland this month.


  • The new 'precariat': living on the edge in unstable Britain
    Ekklesia (Web), 13/01/2013
    About the authors: Tracy Shildrick is a Professor of Sociology at Teesside University. She has researched and written widely around issues to do with young people, poverty and worklessness. Robert Mac


  • Tales of jobless families 'untrue'
    Evening Gazette (Teesside), 31/12/2012, p.9
    The idea that children, parents and grandparents live a life on benefits in is untrue according to a new study by Teesside professors. A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation asked whether there re


  • Teesside/Glasgow Generational joblessness 'a myth'
    The Times Higher Education Supplement, 20/12/2012, p.14
    Researchers from Teesside University and the University of Glasgow carried out intensive fieldwork in Middlesbrough and Glasgow but were unable to find any such examples of extreme welfare dependence.


  • Campus round-up
    Times Higher Education Supplement (Web), 20/12/2012
    The idea that there are families in the UK with three generations that have never worked has been questioned by a study. Researchers from Teesside University and the University of Glasgow carried out


  • Second thoughts
    The Guardian, 19/12/2012, p.34; guardian.co.uk (Web), 19/12/2012
    Tracy Shildrick is sociology professor at Teesside University. She is co-author, with Robert MacDonald, Colin Webster and Kayleigh Garthwaite, of Poverty and Insecurity: life in low-pay, no-pay Britai


  • Exposed: the myth of a 'culture of worklessness' | Robert Macdonald and Tracy Shildrick
    guardian.co.uk (Web), 14/12/2012; BBC Radio Scotland, Good Morning Scotland, 15/12/2012, 09:31:09
    Extensive research shows that families experiencing long-term unemployment remain committed to the value of work Stories about the real extent and problem of worklessness are finally making headlines,


  • Exposing the mythologies of the workless
    The Policy Press (Web), 17/12/2012
    Read the article


  • City families help to dispel non-work myths
    Evening Times, 13/12/2012, p.6; Daily Record, 13/12/2012, p.6; Northern Housing (Web), 13/12/2012; DailyRecord.co.uk (Web), 13/12/2012; Financial Times (Web), 13/12/2012; Herald Scotland (Web), 13/12/2012
    The idea that worklessness is passed from generation to generation in some families has been challenged in a report published today by researchers from Glasgow University and Teesside University, Midd


  • Myth over generations of 'workless families'
    Northern Echo, 13/12/2012, p.16; The Herald, 13/12/2012, p.5; The Independent (Web), 13/12/2012
    The report - based on extensive research in Middlesbrough and Glasgow - examined whether there really are three generations of families who have never worked and whether unemployment in families can b


  • Valuing all people
    Trades Union Congress (Web), 19/11/2012
    In the government-led assault on welfare benefits 'scroungerphobia' is gaining traction; otherwise sensible people developing a genuine disdain for all benefit recipients, an attitude which fails to a


  • Dispelling the myth of benefits
    The Journal, 19/11/2012, p.26; NEBusiness.co.uk (Web), 19/11/2012
    In the government-led assault on welfare benefits 'scroungerphobia' is gaining traction; otherwise sensible people developing a genuine disdain for all benefit recipients, an attitude which fails to a


  • Wages, Poverty and Pay Day Loans: the reality of austerity
    Trades Union Congress (Web), 13/11/2012
    Professor Rob MacDonald, Deputy Director, Social Futures Institute, Teesside University - Rob thanked the chair for her introduction and explained a little about the work he was involved in. His resea


  • Northern TUC hold event to highlight the harsh reality of austerity
    Trades Union Congress (Web), 06/11/2012
    Professor Rob MacDonald, Deputy Director, Social Futures Institute, Teesside University