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Last updated 23rd March 2023


Robert MacDonald is Professor of Education and Social Justice at the University of Huddersfield, UK (where he works on a part-time basis).

He is also currently Visiting Professor at the Danish Centre for Youth Research, Aalborg University and Visiting Fellow at the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Nottingham University. He has also served as Adjunct Professor in Research, at the Department of Sociology, Monash University and Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor, School of Policy Studies, Bristol University. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and, since 2011, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS)

He previously worked and studied at the universities of Durham and York, and was Professor of Sociology at Teesside University from 2002-2017, where he worked with colleagues on the internationally renowned Teesside Studies of Youth Transitions and Social Exclusion.

He is Editor-in-Chief (joint) of the world-leading Journal of Youth Studies. He has researched and written widely about young people, youth, unemployment, work, poverty, crime, class, inequality and the significance of place.

He has authored, co-authored and edited a series of books on these issues including: Risky Business? Youth and the Enterprise Culture (1991); Youth, the Underclass and Social Exclusion (1997); Snakes and Ladders: Young People, Transitions and Social Exclusion (2000); Disconnected Youth? Growing up in Britain’s Poor Neighbourhoods (2005); Drugs in Britain (2007); Young People, Class and Place (2010); Are Cultures of Worklessness Passed Down the Generations? (2012); and Poverty and Insecurity: Life in Low-pay, No-pay Britain (2012).

He has recently worked on projects about: young adults, precarity and the ‘gig economy’; on comparative studies of youth in the UK and the Middle East and North African countries; about youth transitions and the COVID-19 pandemic; and about rural youth and marginalisation.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Visiting Professor, Danish Centre for Youth Research, University of Aalborg

Visiting Fellow, University of Nottingham

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Youth Studies
  • Social Policy
  • Criminology
  • Sociology
  • Work/employment/unemployment
  • Criminal careers and desistance from crime
  • Illicit drug use
  • Poverty/social exclusion/ marginalisation
  • Social Class/ Inequality
  • Precarity/ The Precariat


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