Professor Malcolm Cowburn
PhD, MPhil, MA, CQSW, BA, & FHEA
Honorary Professor of Criminology
In June 2014 I was appointed as an Honorary Professor of Criminology at the University of Exeter.
I am an Emeritus Professor of Applied Social Science at Sheffield Hallam University, having taken early retirement in March 2013.
I have previously worked at Sheffield Hallam University (5 years), Bradford University (2 years) and Sheffield University (12 years). Prior to entering academia, I worked as a probation officer for 12 years and also managed a therapy centre that provided help to children and young people who had been sexually abused.
My work incorporates criminology, psychology, sociology, social policy and social work, and I am interested in how the various disciplines can contribute to a fuller understanding of sexual violence. I have three main areas of research interest:
1. Sex offenders, sexual violence and masculinities
2. Prisons and the management of diversity
3. Research/applied ethics.
My joint authored book ‘Social Work with Sex Offenders: making a difference’ written jointly with Steve Myers of Salford University is published on 27th April 2016. I have also contributed a chapter ('Values in Probation with people who commit sex offences') to forthcoming book 'Probation through the Looking Glass: Academic reflections on rehabilitation' edited by Philip Priestley and Maurice Vanstone and to be published by Palgrave later this year. I am co-editing (with Loraine Gelsthorpe and Azrini Wahidin) and contributing a chapter to 'Research Ethics in Criminology and Criminal Justice– Politics, Dilemmas, Issues and Solutions' for Routledge due to be published in Autumn this year.
2010 Northern Rock Evaluation of ‘Melting Pot’ project HMP Frankland £7,000 – Project Consultant to Hallam Centre of Community Justice
2010 Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Knowledge Exchange Small Grants. Opening up communicative space: towards a collaboratively generated impact in responding to Diversity in HMP Wakefield. Award number: RES-192-22-0047. Co-investigator; Principal Investigator Dr Victoria Lavis, University of Bradford. £3,876.00
2009 Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). Appreciative inquiry into the Diversity Strategy of HMP Wakefield. Award number RES-000-22-3441. Principal Investigator; (Co-investigator Dr Victoria Lavis, University of Bradford); £79,719.27. (March-November 2009)
2009 Leicester City Council Sexual Safety Strategy. Project Manager, Hallam Centre for Community Justice. £15,000.00
2009 General Social Care Council. Professional Boundaries. Research team member, led by Professor Mark Doel. £35,000.00
2006- 2007 “Ethics and Research with Perpetrators of Sexual Violence”. Research partner with the Tema Institute, Linköping University, Sweden. Sexual Violence Research Initiative. Funded by Global Forum for Health Research. Funding was paid to Tema Institute for the cost of the research assistant.
1995 NSPCC Evaluation of Sex Offender Project, Derby (£5,000). This study involved the use of repertory grids and qualitative interviews. It produced two reports to the Funders.
1989-1991 Sex Offenders in Prison: a study of structured interventions designed to change offending behaviour. The study (for my MPhil) attracted financial support from John Paul Getty jnr Charitable Trust (£10,000).
2013 (ongoing) Consultant & Executive Steering Group member - ESRC: Research Grant An Appreciative Inquiry into the response to diversity in three Yorkshire Prisons. Award number: ES/K005049/1
2010 National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) invited peer reviewer for: Erooga, M., Allnock, D., Telford, P. (2010) ‘Creating Safer Organisations: Using the perspectives of offenders to inform organisational safeguarding of children.’ Research Report.
2010 - ongoing Member of ESRC Peer Review College. Economic & Social Research Council
2009 Member of Sexual Violence Research Initiative Technical Advisory Group, The Sexual Violence Research Initiative, Global Forum for Health Research.
2008-2009 Advisor to Dr Sarah Nelson’s, lottery funded (2009) ‘Report Care And Support Needs Of Men Who Survived Childhood Sexual Abuse’. Edinburgh; Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (www.crfr.ac.uk) & Health in Mind (www.health-in-mind.org.uk)
2008 Ethical Recommendations for Research with Perpetrators of Sexual Violence: a consultative meeting. 17th-18th July 2008, Pretoria South Africa. The Sexual Violence Research Initiative, Global Forum for Health Research.
2008 Developing Public Policy on Men and Boys. Men’s Coalition – Home Office Funded Project. Principal researcher: Sandy Ruxton. Advisory group – Professor Brid Featherstone, Professor Jeff Hearn, Professor Keith Pringle & Dr Malcolm Cowburn.
Recent Research Collaborations
2012 Lead Discussant – ‘Online discussion 2: Access to and the impact of sex offender disclosure on minority groups’. ESRC Knowledge Exchange – ‘Sex offenders & Public Disclosure’ ES/J010251/1 (P.I. Dr K McCartan, C.I. Prof Hazel Kemshall).
2008 – 2009 Project partner: “Performing Straight White Masculinities: Représentations et Expériences de la masculinité blanche hétérosexuelle dans les pays anglophones”, Projet innovant – Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3.
External impact and engagement
2016 Social Work with Sex Offenders: Making a difference Policy Press; Bristol, UK
Articles in refereed journals
2014 Speaking about sexual abuse in the British South Asian community: offenders, victims and the challenges of shame and reintegration. Journal of Sexual Aggression (with Gill, A. K. & Harrison, K.) DOI 10.1080/13552600.2014.929188
2013 Using a prisoner advisory group to develop diversity research in a maximum-security prison: a means of enhancing prisoner participation. Groupwork 23 (3), 67-79 (on-line publication) with V. Lavis.
2011 Perceiving the continuum of sexual harm and the need for varied responses to sexual violence. [Guest Editorial] International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 55, (2) 179-181
2010 Editorial. Themed issue on Masculinities with additional articles. Critical Social Policy, 30 (2), 163-164 with B. Featherstone.
2010 Principles, virtues and care: ethical dilemmas in research with male sex offenders. Psychology Crime & Law, 16(1-2), 65-74.
2009 Race Relations in Prison: Managing Performance and Developing Engagement. British Journal of Community Justice, 17(3), 77-89. (with Victoria Lavis)
2008 BME sex offenders in prison: the problem of participation in offending behaviour groupwork programmes – a tripartite model of understanding (with Victoria Lavis & Tammi Walker). British Journal of Community Justice, 6 (1), 19-34
2008 Safe recruitment, social justice, and ethical practice: should people who have criminal convictions be allowed to train as social workers? (with Peter Nelson) Social Work Education 27 (3), 293-306
2007 Men Researching Men in Prison: The Challenges For Profeminist Research. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 46 (3) 276-288
2005 Hegemony and discourse: reconstruing the male sex offender and sexual coercion by men. Sexualities, Evolution and Gender 7, 3, 215-231
2005 Confidentiality and public protection: ethical dilemmas in qualitative research with adult male sex offender Journal of Sexual Aggression 11, 1, 49-63
2001 Masking Hegemonic Masculinity: Reconstructing The Paedophile As The Dangerous Stranger (with Lena Dominelli) British Journal of Social Work 31, 399-414
2000 Pornography and Men’s Practices (with Keith Pringle). Journal of Sexual Aggression, 6, 1/2, 52-66
2000 Assessment of Social Work Students: Standpoint and Strong Objectivity. (with Peter Nelson and Janet Williams). Social Work Education 19 (6) 627-637
2000 Consultancy to groupwork programmes for adult male sex offenders: some reflections on knowledge and processes. British Journal of Social Work 30, 635-648
1998 A Man’s world: Gender Issues in Working with Male Sex Offenders in Prison. Howard Journal, Vol. 37 No 3, pp234-251
1998 Moving beyond Litigation and Positivism: Another Approach to allegations of Sexual Abuse (with Lena Dominelli). British Journal of Social Work 28, 525-543
1996 The Black Male Sex Offender in Prison: images and issues. Journal of Sexual Aggression 2(2): 122-142.
1990 Work with Male Sex offenders in Groups, Groupwork, 3 (2) 157-171.
1990 Work with Sex Offenders in Prison: What happens to the “Nonces”? Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 1 (1), 145-151
(due Autumn 2016) Research Ethics in Criminology and Criminal Justice– Politics, Dilemmas, Issues and Solutions (Co-edited with Loraine Gelsthorpe & Azrini Wahidin). London; Routledge
2013 Values in Criminology & Community Justice. Bristol, Policy Press (co-edited with Duggan, M., Robinson, A. & Senior, P.)
1992 Changing Men: a practice guide to working with adult male sex offenders jointly with Wilson, C. & Loewenstein, P. (eds.). Nottingham; Nottinghamshire Probation Service.
Chapters in edited collections
2016 (in press) 'Values in Probation with People who commit Sex Offences' in Priestley, P. & Vanstone, M. 'Probation through the looking glass: Academic reflections on rehabilitation' Palgrave; Basingstoke, UK
2016 (in press) 'Researching sex crimes and sex offenders:some ethical and epistemological considerations' in Cowburn, M. Gelsthorpe, L. & Wahidin, A. 'Research Ethics in Criminology – Dilemmas, Issues and Solutions' Routledge; London
2015 ‘Social Work with sex offenders’ in Wright, J. D. (ed) International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed). Philadelphia, PA; Elsevier Inc. (with Myers, S.)
2013 Postmodernism and criminological thought: ‘whose science, whose knowledge? (with Liz Austen). In Cowburn, M., Duggan, M., Robinson, A. & Senior, P. Values in Criminology & Community Justice’ Bristol, Policy Press
2013 Working with different values: extremism, hate and sex crimes. (with Duggan, M. & Pollock, E.) In Cowburn, M., Duggan, M., Robinson, A. & Senior, P. ‘Values in Criminology & Community Justice’ Bristol, Policy Press
2013 Men researching violent men: epistemologies, ethics and emotions in qualitative research. In Pini, B. & Pease, B. ‘Men, masculinities and methodologies.’ Basingstoke; Palgrave
2011 What's Happening in Men's Work in the UK? Reflections on Policies and Processes. In Ruspini, E., Hearn, J., Pease, B. & Pringle, K. (eds) ‘Men and masculinities around the world: transforming men’s practices.’ Basingstoke; Palgrave Macmillan (with Carole Wright)
2008 Groupwork with male sex offenders in the 1980s. In Senior, P. ‘Moments in Probation: celebrating the century of probation’. Crayford, Shaw & Sons Ltd.
2007 Ethics, research and policy. In Hodgson, S. M. and Irving, Z. ‘Policy reconsidered: Meanings, politics and practices’. Bristol, Policy Press
2007 Working With Perpetrators or Offenders in Flood, M.; Gardiner, J. K.; Pease, B.; Pringle, K. (eds) ‘The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities’ London, Routledge
2007 Pornography (with Michael Flood) in Flood, M.; Gardiner, J. K.; Pease, B.; Pringle, K. (eds) ‘The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities’ London, Routledge
2006 Constructive work with male sex offenders: male forms of life, language games and change in Parton, N.; O’Byrne, P.; Gorman, K. and Gregory, M. (eds) ‘Constructive Work with Offenders’ London, Jessica Kingsley.
2005 A Man’s World: Gender Issues in Working with Male Sex Offenders in Prison. In Britton, D. M. Gender and Prison. Aldershot, Ashgate. (reprint of 1998 Howard Journal paper)