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Dr Susan Hedley-Penna

Formerly at Lancaster University

Susan Hedley-Penna

PhD supervision

the political economy of welfare; the commodification of welfare; the political economy of crime; the relationships between welfare and crime, social and criminal justice policy; a social harm approach to organised crime.


short biography

I was a mature student, starting my degree with an 8 yr old son in tow, which proved very useful as he had a good sense of geography and could lead me around the campus, which seemed bewildering to me at the time, even though it was much smaller than it is today. For several years we lived in Barker cottage, now a restaurantI believe, but then a lovely cottage in the middle of a field surrounded by sheep and cows - spooky at night to someone who had come from a city. After my degree in Sociology I undertook a postgrad social work course, and then an ESRC funded PhD in sociology on the political economy of welfare states. After working for social services (with children with severe learning disabilities) I came back to Lancaster to Applied Social Science on a research contract, & from that moved into a lecturing post teaching on the Applied Social Science degree. I worked part-time for many years, becoming full-time in 2000. However, the ASS degree was laid down in 2004 and I started teaching criminology in 2005, where I examine the global dimensions of crime rather than welfare, and Enlightenment thought on criminal justice rather than on social welfare. Since August 2013 I have been located in the Dept. of Sociology, & continue to teach Criminology, now located in the Law School.

Research Interests

Research Interests

My primary research expertise is in two areas.

The first is in sociological accounts of social change. I have been interested in developing social theoretical accounts of policy and social welfare, and most of my work has concentrated on situating welfare and policy within social theoretical problematics of historical and contemporary social change. I have an inter-disciplinary background and have concentrated until recently on developing my theoretical understandings and applying theory to the substantive areas of social welfare and criminal justice. Here I been concerned with engaging with other theoretical works, or analysing policy documents.

The second is policy as a technology of governance, with particular reference to the connections between policy areas in the European Union and other sites of multilevel governance. Policy measures are never simply about technical issues of this or that situation and constituency - for example, social welfare policy has been implicated in nation-building, economic development, managing populations and structuring social divisions, and welfare and welfare policies are central to the governance and regulation of modern societies. I have been interested in the relationship between social and economic policy for some time, in terms of the role of policy in the development of political economies, and am currently examining the commodification of health and social care services in the EU, the expression of the EU's 'social' dimension within a primarily economic discourse, and wider theoretical questions in relation to understanding how the governance of social welfare is effected through the EU and its insertion in other institutions of global governance such as the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation.

More recently, in examining the concept of 'social harm' in relation to criminal activity, the relationship between, and apparently mutual dependence of, legal and illegal markets and legal and illegal forms of authority have become significant to my work. Three lines of empirical enquiry have developed here. The first is organised, transnational crime. In 2006-7 I gained access to a police force in England , and started looking at how police officers make operational decisions when policing mobile criminality, in the context of contemporary social change. The second is the policing of environmental crime, and the third is cultures of illegal consumption, particularly in relation to young people's use of weapons and violent street crime. These areas of research have important implications for understandings of 'welfare' and the political and social conditions underpinning its institutional delivery.


I have taught a number of courses in social work and social policy within the now defunct Dept Applied Social Science, including: Anti-discriminatory Practice, Theories of Welfare and Globalisation, Social Change and Social Protection in the European Union. I am currently teaching on the consortially taught courses CRIM 102: Crime and Social Life and CRIM 205: Criminological Thought; and my half-unit course CRIM 313: Organised Crime.

Current Teaching

Criminology: Part 1 Crime and Social Life (consortially taught). I give lectures on: a) changing conceptions of, and responses to crime historically, and b) transnational organised crime

Criminology: 205 Criminological Thought (consortially taught). I give lectures on: classical and positivist criminology and marxism and critical criminology.

Criminology: 313 Organised Crime (half-unit)

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