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Professor of Education, University of the West of Scotland

I have been a teacher for a short period in List D schools and secure units. It has always been an interest of mine regards why some individuals become excluded/exclude themselves. My current study is on young offenders in Polmont prison. I’m exploring their life histories in terms of the construction they make of them. The group have committed serious knife crime, including murder. I’m aiming to throw light on what holds their ‘life world’ together making it the case that so many of them return to prison. I’m drawing upon theory which recognises the interplay of human and non-human factors structuring their lives and sense of place in society. The scholarship which I’m presently engaging with is about male violence, masculinity and knife crime in the UK.

My other topic of current interest is the imprisonment of parents and its effect on the family, children and community. I have a PhD student working in this area whom I plan to work with over the coming two years. We are interested in processes which relate to desistence, such as maintaining contact while the relative is in prison. We are hoping to undertake qualitative fieldwork in the context of two prison communities in Scotland within the next few months.

My university education was in philosophy, psychology and sociology at the universities of York, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen. My research interests generally include cultural, scientific & social capital, social class mobility & education, research cultures in higher education, sectarianism, territoriality & youth gangs, social theory & research, ethnography, effects of prison on young people, impact of incarceration on families & communities, prison experience of young men and life histories of violent young offenders


  • –present
    Professor of Education, University of the West of Scotland