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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Wolfson Fellow

Professor Jo Phoenix, B.Sc., M.Sc, PhD

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 40709
Deputy Head (Queen's Campus) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health

(email at


Prof Jo Phoenix is the Dean for Queen's Campus and holds a Chair in Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences.

After studying Sociology as an undergraduate, she continued at Bristol University by undertaking an M.Sc. in Gender and Social Policy in 1991. She then spent a year working as a computer programmer and then further year teaching Access to Social Work and Sociology A Level at Soundwell College in Bristol. In 1993, she was awarded an ESRC scholarship to undertake a PhD in the Department of Criminology, Keele University. Her first lecturership was at Middlesex University in 1997. In 2000, she was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at Bath University. She took up her position at Durham University in 2007 and was Chair, Board of Examiners before becoming Deputy Head of Faculty, Social Sciences and Health in 2009.

Jo's research is led by a deep concern to understand the experiences of vulnerable and marginalised groups of people and how social policy and criminal justice often seems to do little to alleviate their suffering. Her work is theoretically informed, empirical research and she has focussed on two main areas: prostitution and youth justice. Jo has conducted studies into decision making in youth justice, risk and needs assessments of young lawbreakers, women’s experiences of prostitution, the sexual exploitation of children and young people, prostitution policy reform, sexual regulation and social control, and the criminalisation of sexually exploited young people. She has expertise in researching sensitive subjects, discourse analysis and qualitative research methodologies.

Jo's current research interest in youth justice focuses on practitioners and the social, political, economic, and ideological context that shapes their practice. This is particularly the case in her current work on the criminalisation of sexually exploited young people. This work is paralleled with an interest in the ways that profound social changes around consumerism, sex and identity shape the experiences of sexually exploited young people and adults working in the sex industry. Together these two research agendas have re-ignited Jo's interest in understanding the ways that 'sex', as a social formation, has fundamentally changed in the 21st century.

Jo would welcome the opportunity to supervise research postgraduate students interested in any aspect of youth justice, gender and crime or gender and victimisation. She would be particularly pleased to supervise students with an interest in sociological or criminological aspects of commercialised or commodified sex, human trafficking, new technologies and their impact on 'the marketplace' of sex. Please feel free to contact her about potential topics.

Current Research Students

Jasem Al-Jasem, Milieu and Juvenile Delinquency in Kuwait

Victoria Armitage, Walking The Line: young People and Anti-Social Behaviour, Durham Doctoral Studentship Award

Eric Baumgarten, Will Boys Be Boys? Masculinities, young people who have offended and the youth justice system ESRC Phd Award

Tom Brock, Knowledge, Truth and Experience: a realist exploration into the transformative practices of social movements ESRC Phd Award

Maggie McDowell, Single Homeless Women and Victimisation, ESRC Phd Award

Peter Moon, Crime and Regional Media

Savita Sathe, Sexual Health Promotion and Teenagers, ESRC Phd Award

Research Groups

Crime, Violence and Abuse

Policy, Professions and Communities

Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Gender and Law at Durham

Durham Gender Network

Research Interests

  • Gender and Crime
  • Gender and Victimisation
  • Sex and Sexual Regulation
  • Prostitution
  • Comparative Prostitution Policy Research
  • Human Trafficking
  • Sexual Exploitation of Young People
  • Youth Penalty
  • Youth Justice

Research Projects

Girls on the Edge: the criminalisation of sexually exploited young girls

Subversive Practice: youth justice practitioners and policy implementation

Sex, Money and Consumerism: selling sex in late modern societies

Research Groups

Centre for Criminal Law & Justice


School of Applied Social Sciences

  • Crime, Deviance and Culture

Selected Publications

Books: authored

Books: edited

Books: sections

Journal papers: academic

Reports: official

Show all publications