Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Contact Details

Dr Mark Monaghan

Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Policy

I have a degree in sociology from the University of Liverpool and completed my postgraduate studies here at Leeds. I work mainly in the area of social policy and crime, but my work is influenced by my background in sociology.

I am the Director of Student Education in the School of Sociology and Social Policy.

Research Interests

My primary research interests revolve around an analysis of ‘elites’. This has taken me in numerous directions. I have recently been published and I am preparing further research outputs on state crimes and crimes of the powerful. I have explored the influences and drivers of policy making looking at relationship between science and evidence in the making of drugs and welfare policies. Furthermore, I am interested in the interplay between the precautionary principle and evidence-based decision-making and theory and application of realist methods. 


I mainly teach on crime and related issues. I currently convene the Level One Module 'Deviance, Crime and Social Control' and the Level Two Module 'Drugs: Society, Policy and Politics'. At Level Three I co-convene (with Dr Simon Prideaux) a module on 'Organized Crime and Violence'. 

PhD Supervision

I currently supervise and I am keen to supervise potential students with an interest in the following areas:

  • Counter-terrorism policy
  • Drugs policy (international and domestic)
  • Crime and welfare
  • Health Crimes
  • The policy process and evidence-based policy making

Key Publications


  • Monaghan MP; Prideaux SJ (2015) State Crime and Immorality: The Corrupting Influence of the Powerful. Bristol: Policy Press. [Accepted]

  • Monaghan MP (2011) Evidence Versus Politics: Exploiting Research in UK Drug Policy-Making. Bristol: Policy Press.

Journal Articles

  • Monaghan MP (2014) “Drug Policy Governance in the UK: Lessons from changes to and debates concerning the classification of cannabis under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act”, International Journal of Drug Policy. 25.5: 1025-1030.

    Author URL [www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk]

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    Background Drugs policy is made in a politically charged atmosphere. This is often not seen to be conducive to the ideals of evidence-based policymaking. In the UK over recent years the efficacy of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) has been one of the most widely discussed and debated areas of UK drug policy. Since inception, the MDA 1971 has remained relatively stable with very few drugs moving up or down the scale and until recently, and with very few exceptions, there has been little public debate on the nature of the system. This changed in the run up to the cannabis reclassification in 2004 from class B to class C, through the reverse of this decision in 2009 and the fallout between the Government of the time and leading members of the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs. Methods Based on wide-ranging survey of the literature and secondary analysis of various official publications and academic commentaries, this paper considers what the cannabis episode can tell us about the current state of UK drug policy governance. Results Previous research on drug policy governance has suggested that policy goals should be clearly articulated so as to avoid confusion over what constitutes evidence, decision-makers should be ‘evidence-imbued’ and there should be widespread consultation with, and transparency of, stakeholder engagement. The interpretation here is that recent changes to cannabis legislation reveal that these aspects of good governance were called into question although there were fleeting moments of good practice. Conclusion The use of evidence in drug policy formulation continues to be bedevilled by political stalemate and reluctance to countenance radical reform. Where evidence does play a role it tends to be at the margins. There are, however, potential lessons to be learned from other policy areas but this requires a more pragmatic attitude on behalf of decision-makers.

  • Hamilton I; Lloyd C; Monaghan MP; Paton K (2014) “The emerging cannabis treatment population”, Drugs and Alcohol Today. 14.3: 150-153.

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine recent trends in presentation to treatment where cannabis is identified as the primary drug. Design/methodology/approach – Data is drawn from the recently published Public Health England report and supplemented with Home Office and European data. Findings – The data shows a marked increase in presentations for cannabis treatment over recent years. The authors offer some potential explanations for this trend. Research limitations/implications – The authors need to improve our understanding of the type of cannabis that is available and how specifically it is used. In parallel there is a pressing need for an evaluation of evidence in relation to treatment for problematic cannabis users. Originality/value – This paper highlights this recent trend in treatment presentations, offers some potential explanations and makes associated recommendations.

  • Manzano A; Monaghan M; Potrata B; Clayton M (2014) “The invisible issue of organ laundering.”, Transplantation. 98.6: 600-603.

    Author URL [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    Global institutions, although suggesting measures to deter organ trafficking, reiterate the lack of official statistics about this illegal trade. In this article, we explore the reasons why organ trafficking remains unreported. We argue that the complex factors that perpetuate invisibility facilitate trafficked organs being "laundered" in the health care systems of the purchaser's country, hindering accurate estimation of the problem. The factors are as follows: (a) issues of globalization, jurisdiction, and law enforcement; (b) the power of health care professionals; (c) the reimbursement of transplantation costs abroad by insurers; (d) ambivalence of the victim status of the sellers; and (e) the buyers as vulnerable offenders.

  • Ingold J; Monaghan MP (2014) “Evidence translation: an exploration of policymakers' use of evidence”, Policy and Politics: an international journal. [Accepted]


    Author URL [www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk]

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    This paper combines the evidence-based policymaking and ‘policy as translation’ literatures to illuminate the process by which evidence from home or overseas contexts is incorporated into policy. Drawing upon focus groups with Department for Work and Pensions officials, a conceptual model of ‘evidence translation’ is introduced, comprising five key dimensions which influence how evidence is used in policy: the perceived policy problem, agenda-setting, filtration processes, the policy apparatus and the role of translators. The paper suggests the critical role of ‘evidence translators’ throughout the process and highlights the perceived importance of methodology as an evidence selection mechanism.

  • Monaghan MP; Wincup E (2013) “Work and the journey to recovery: exploring the implications of welfare reform for methadone maintenance clients”, International Journal of Drug Policy.

  • Monaghan MP; Pawson R; Wicker K (2012) “The Precautionary Principle and Evidence-Based Policy Making”, Evidence and Policy. 8.2: 171-191.

  • Monaghan MP (2012) “The Evolution of UK Drugs Policy: From Maintenance to Recovery?”, People, Place and Policy Online.

  • Monaghan MP (2010) “The Complexity of Evidence: Reflections on Research Utilisation in a Heavily Politicised Policy Area”, Social Policy and Society. 9.1: 1-12.

  • Monaghan M (2008) “The Evidence-Base in UK Drug Policy: The new rules of engagement”, Policy and Politics. 36.1: 145-150.


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