Accessibility statement

Dr Kate Brown

BA (Sheffield) MA (Leeds) PhD (Leeds)

  • Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology
  • Programme Leader Social and Public Policy and Social Research

Visit Dr Kate Brown's profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse her research related activities.


Areas of expertise

  • Vulnerability and social control
  • Young people who are seen as vulnerable and /or deviant
  • The sex industry

Academic biography

My research explores how vulnerability is lived, governed and understood. I am especially interested in how behavioural regulation through welfare and criminal justice interventions shapes the lives of ‘vulnerable’ people. Groups I have researched and written about have included vulnerable young people, young men served with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, sexually exploited young people and female street sex workers. My book Vulnerability and Young People: Care and Social Control in Policy and Practice was published by the Policy Press in 2015. I have written widely on the concept of vulnerability and its use in supportive and disciplinary processes for marginalised people.

Before working as an academic I worked in the voluntary sector for nearly ten years in services for vulnerable groups. This experience had a strong influence on my research interests. I worked as a front line support worker for sex workers and sexually exploited young people in a small local charity, moving to a national children’s charity for a child sexual exploitation (CSE) policy/participation role. I then worked as a manager at a young people’s drugs service and for Leeds Women's Aid. I remain active in services for vulnerable women and children as a trustee for Basis Yorkshire, an award-winning regional voluntary sector support and advocacy project on sex work and child sexual exploitation.

During 2014-2016, I was research lead on Leeds City Council's Prostitution Strategic Partnership, and research I conducted informed the development of a policing model in Leeds which prioritises protection of sex workers rather than enforcement (the Leeds ‘managed approach’). I am currently leading the N8-funded project Policing Vulnerability: A Review of the Sex Work Liaison Officer role in West Yorkshire Police. This will involve working with sex workers to make a best practice resource on policing sex work. I have an interest in co-production with vulnerable groups and in 2016 worked with young people with experience of CSE and an artist to make an animation and set of resources about moving on from sexual exploitation (a partnership with Basis Yorkshire).

PhD supervision

Supervision interests:

  • Social control and regulatory welfare
  • Vulnerable and ‘troublesome’ young people
  • Vulnerability
  • Sex work
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Qualitative research methods with ‘hard to reach’ groups
  • Co-production with vulnerable groups


My teaching focuses on bringing policy, theory and lived experiences together to explore debates in social policy and criminal justice. Modules I convene or co-convene include:

  • Introducing Sociology and Psychology (First Year Undergraduate)
  • Understanding Childhood and Youth (Second Year Undergraduate)
  • Vulnerability, Deviance and Social Control (Third Year Undergraduate)
  • Sex work: Lived Experiences, Policies and Perspectives (Third Year Undergraduate)
  • Placement Module (Third Year Undergraduate)


Brown, K. and Wincup E. (2019) 'Producing the vulnerable subject in English drug policy', International Journal of Drug Policy.

Brown, K. (2019) ‘Vulnerability and Child Sexual Exploitation: Towards an approach grounded in life experiences’, Critical Social Policy.

Brown, K. and Sanders, T. (2017) ‘Pragmatic, Progressive, Problematic: Addressing vulnerability through a local street sex work partnership initiative’, Social Policy and Society, 16 (3): 429-441.

Brown, K. (2017) ‘The Governance of Vulnerability:  Regulation, support and social divisions in action’, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 37 (11-12): 667-682

Brown, K., Ecclestone, K. and Emmel, N. (2017) ‘The Many Faces of Vulnerability’, Social Policy and Society, 16 (3): 497-510. From sole-edited collection on ‘Vulnerability and Social Justice’

Brown, K. (2017) ‘Global ‘vulnerabilities’: New configurations of competition in the era of conditionality?’ in Horsfall, D. and Hudson, J. (eds) Social Policy in an Era of Competition: From Global to Local perspectives, pp. 149-165

Brown, K. (2016) Breaking Through: Moving on from Child Sexual Exploitation, University of York and Basis Yorkshire. Available online.

Brown, K. (2015) Vulnerability and Young People: Care and Social Control in Policy and Practice. Bristol: The Policy Press. Further details.

Brown, K. (2014) 'Questioning the Vulnerability Zeitgeist: Care and control practices with ‘vulnerable’ young people', Social Policy and Society, 13 (3): 371-387.

Brown, K. (2014) 'Beyond Protection: 'The vulnerable' in the age of austerity' in Harrison, M. and Sanders, T. (eds) Social Policies and Social Control: New Perspectives on the Not-so- Big Society. Bristol: The Policy Press, pp. 39-55.

Brown, K. and Moore, J. (2014) Prostitution in Leeds: Preliminary Scoping Research, University of York and Safer Leeds. Research conducted for Leeds Prostitution Strategic Partnership. Brown and Moore - Prostitution in Leeds - Executive Summary (PDF , 419kb)

Brown, K. (2012) 'Re-moralising ‘Vulnerability’', People, Place and Policy Online, 6 (1): 41-53. Available online.

Brown, K. and Patrick, R. (2012) 'Re-moralising or De-moralising? The Coalition government’s approach to ‘problematic’ populations: editorial', People, Place and Policy Online, 6 (1): 1-2. Available online.

Brown, K. (2011) ‘‘Vulnerability’: Handle with Care’, Journal of Ethics and Social Welfare, 5 (3): 313-321.

Brown, K. (2011) ‘Beyond Badges of Honour: Young People’s Perceptions of their Anti-Social Behaviour Orders’, People, Place and Policy Online, 5 (1): 12-24. Available online.

Brown, K. (2006) ‘Participation and Young People Involved in Prostitution’, Child Abuse Review, 15 (2): 294-312.

Contact details

Dr Kate Brown
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology
Programme Leader Social and Public Policy and Social Research

Tel: 01904 32 1241