Image of Dr William McGowan

Dr William McGowan

School of Justice Studies

Faculty of Arts Professional and Social Studies

I joined the School of Justice Studies in June 2020 having held previous lecturing and research posts at the University of Liverpool and LJMU. Drawing primarily on sociology, philosophy of social science, critical criminology and critical social policy, my research interests span two related areas within this interdisciplinary space: 1) violence, death and bereavement and 2) social theory and social science methodology.

My recent book, 'Victims of Political Violence and Terrorism: Making Up Resilient Survivors' (Routledge, 2022), is partly a study of how a well-known and certainly much used mental health discourse ('resilience') interacts with those facing immense and unusual adversity ('terrorism') in practice. Finishing this project has (re)sparked an ongoing interest around both popular and social scientific appeals to 'lived experience' and, relatedly, mental health classifications of more everyday kinds than are typically paired with spectacular violence such as 'terrorism'. In a similar vein, my recent work has focused on making sense of death and dying, including the politics associated with these ostensibly 'natural' phenomena, in more everyday and ordinary contexts. My ongoing research here is focused on the political and moral economies of the funeral industry, particularly how capital accumulation operates within this relatively overlooked sector, but I've also published recent articles and chapters on emotional labour, reflexivity, and the question of what should constitute the 'empirical' within qualitative and interpretive epistemologies. I continue to work with LJMU colleagues Will Jackson and Emma Murray on a long-term project we refer to as Criminological Artivism which explores, among other things, collaborative and public research dissemination. I am currently Guest Editing a Special Issue for the journal Mortality with Samantha Fletcher at Manchester Metropolitan University, entitled 'The New Normal? Marginalised Mortalities and Ordinary Deaths in Extraordinary Times', which will be published in late Spring (April/May) 2023.


University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, PhD Sociology
University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, MA Social Science Research Methodology
University of Salford, United Kingdom, BSc Criminology


University of Liverpool, Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

Highlighted publications

McGowan W. 2022. Victims of Political Violence and Terrorism Making Up Resilient Survivors Routledge 9781000564556 DOI Author Url Publisher Url


Fletcher S, McGowan W. 2023. The Neoliberal State: Then and Now Scott D, Sim J. Demystifying Power, Crime and Social Harm Palgrave Macmillan 9783031462139 Publisher Url Public Url

Jackson WH, McGowan W, Murray ET. 2023. Criminological Artivism: Examining the Potential of Collaboration and Coproduction between Socially Engaged Art and Critical Criminology Canning V, Martin G, Tombs S. The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology Emerald 9781802622003 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

McGowan W. 2019. Performing Atrocity: Staging Experiences of Violence and Conflict Lippens R, Murray E. Representing the Experience of War and Atrocity: Interdisciplinary Explorations in Visual Criminology Palgrave Macmillan 978-3-030-13925-4 Publisher Url Public Url

McGowan W. 2017. The perils of ‘uncertainty’ for fear of crime research in the 21st century Lee M, Mythen G. The International Handbook on Fear of Crime Routledge 9781315651781 Publisher Url Public Url

Mythen G, McGowan W. 2017. Cultural Victimology Revisited: Synergies of Risk, Fear and Resilience Walklate S. Handbook of Victims and Victimology Routledge 9781315712871 Publisher Url Public Url

Carrapico HF, Massoumi N, McGowan W, Mythen G. Disputing Security and Risk: The Convoluted Politics of Uncertainty The Politics of Uncertainty Routledge Public Url

Fletcher S, McGowan W. The Financial Life of Funerals before Death Mallon S, Towers L. Death, Dying and Bereavement: New Sociological Perspectives Routledge

Journal article

Fletcher S, McGowan W. 2023. The New Normal? Ordinary Deaths and Marginalised Mortalities in Extraordinary Times Mortality, 28 :207-219 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Ahmed S, McGowan W. 2022. Researching “Resilience”: Reflections from the Field, Past and Present Sentio, 4 Publisher Url Public Url

McGowan W, Cook EA. 2020. Comprehensive or Comprehensible Experience? A Case Study of Religion and Traumatic Bereavement Sociological Research Online, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Fletcher S, McGowan W. 2020. The State of the UK funeral industry Critical Social Policy, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

McGowan W. 2020. ‘If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry’: Emotional labour, reflexivity and ethics-as-practice in a qualitative fieldwork context Methodological Innovations, 13 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Vaughn L, McGowan W. 2016. Treating honour-based violence as terrorism will only harm more women and girls The Conversation, Publisher Url Public Url

McGowan W. 2016. Critical terrorism studies, victimisation, and policy relevance: compromising politics or challenging hegemony? Critical Studies on Terrorism, 9 :12-32 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Books (authored)

McGowan W. 2022. Victims of Political Violence and Terrorism Making Up Resilient Survivors Routledge 9781000564556 DOI Author Url Publisher Url

Internet publication

McGowan W. 2020. If We Dupe Them, They Will Come: How Covid-19 has Shone a Spotlight on Higher Education Marketisation Publisher Url

Fletcher S, McGowan W. 2020. “YOU DESPICABLE BEASTS”: Dignity Funerals and commodified death in the spotlight Publisher Url Public Url

Wilkinson H, McGowan W, Fletcher S. 2018. ‘I should be doing my PhD. Instead, I’m here. Making this sign, and defending a pension I don’t even have yet…’ Publisher Url Public Url

Books (edited)

2019. Representing the Experience of War and Atrocity Lippens R, Murray E. Springer International Publishing 9783030139247 DOI Publisher Url

Book review

McGowan W. 2017. In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies by David Rieff The British Journal of Criminology: an international review of crime and society, 57 :1520-1523 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Research Grants Awarded:

LJMU QR Research Fund, The Financial Life of Funerals before Death: Scoping the Pre-need Market, Grant value (£): 2000. 2022

Research Development Fund, University of Liverpool, Making Sense of the Past in the Present: Findings and Futures for Survivors of Violence and Conflict, Grant value (£): 3,875. 2019

University of Liverpool/Santander, Santander Travel Grant for the Early Career Researcher Development Programme RENKEI PAX School: ‘Enslaving the Mind’, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan., Grant value (£): 1,000. 2016

Economic and Social Research Council, Facing the consequences of political violence and terrorism: 'Resilient' subjects?, Grant value (£): £56,635. 2014

External collaboration:

City, University of London, Dr Elizabeth Cook.

Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Samantha Fletcher.

University of Greenwich, Dr Christian Perrin.

University of Liverpool, Professor Gabe Mythen.

Other Professional Activity:

Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion..