Phil Scraton: A Sociological Playlist

Professor Phil Scraton contributes the fourth “sociological playlist” in our July series. Introduced below, the playlist can be listened to in full here.


Music has been elemental in my life. As a child it was the radio, family sessions and the school choir. On my first visit to Liverpool’s grand Philharmonic Hall I stood with my primary school class on its seemingly vast stage singing, ‘The fisherman, with bait and rod/ Sat by the evening tide/ In tranquil mood he watched the flood/ And thought of nought beside’. As an altar boy and seminarian I overdosed on religion and grew to despise the overblown pomposity and forced rhymes of hymns and, dare I say it, carols. While I inherited the tradition of Celtic songs and Union anthems, I was intrigued by the Blues. Yet the seminary stole the early Sixties. In 1966 aged 16 I served my last mass and mid-term took the train home from Durham. In post-seminary rehab eventually I lost my religion (passing REM reference there). The Liverpool Sound, California Dreaming and Woodstock were elements of a captivated imagination. Occasionally I played classical music while dabbling in poetry (!!), profoundly disliked opera (yes, I know, it’s probably inverted snobbery … or not) and, in equal measure, Gilbert and Sullivan. I loathed superficial, novelty ‘pop’ – it still infests the dance-floor at the end of weddings. ‘The Chicken Song’ springs to mind if not to life!

A while back, to my total surprise/ shock, I was invited to castaway on Desert Island Discs. This brought on a month of minor panic and major equivocation. Of course I would finish with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ I was left with just seven songs. Not only did I choose the tracks but I also specified the two minutes from each to be played (reduced to one minute on-line). I could list another twenty, but, here goes …

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1. Barry Kerr, “The Leaving Song” from the album Boy in a Boat, 2015

Sundays were spent at Aunty Pat’s and Uncle Mylie’s terrace house on Park Road North, Birkenhead. They were siblings, she was hilarious, he was quiet – and often absent, away across the oceans. I tracked his sea-faring in the Liverpool Echo: Suez Canal, Cape Town, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane … his ship ‘at anchor’, or ‘in port’, ‘departed port’. Back at the house the men played, the women sang. It overlooked England’s oldest public park and was close to the docks where our ancestors had been crowded into tenements condemned as ‘unfit for human habitation’. They had arrived famished, refugees from Ireland’s Great Hunger. Without money or papers to sail the Atlantic, they were trapped in grinding poverty.

Dad rarely came to the Sunday gatherings. A sick man – a Liverpool Protestant married into a Birkenhead Catholic family. ‘Ted’ Scraton and Hannah Lynne faced sectarian hostility, the shunning reserved for ‘mixed marriages’. The Lynne’s had been the O’Lynn’s, their name adapted to deflect anti-Irish racism. I grew up knowing mum as the youngest of six. In fact, she was an only child. Her mother, Mary, lived with us. Only recently did I discover that the ‘Aunt Mary’ I watched over as she lay dying on her sick-bed was my maternal grandmother. Hannah was her only child, Mary never married.

The Leaving Song, written by my great friend Barry Kerr – multi-talented writer, singer, instrumentalist and artist – reflects the contemporary exodus from Ireland. When I first heard the song it returned me to that terrace house on Park Road North – the laughs, the tears, the session: ‘We’re on the roads again/ Travelling like the wind/ We’re on the waves again/ With the ghosts of our kin’.

2. Gráinne Holland, An Drúcht Geal Ceo (The Foggy Dew)” from the album Gaelré, 2015”

A song often sung at our Birkenhead gatherings was The Foggy Dew or An Drúcht Geal Ceo. Written by Canon Charles O’Neill of Portglenone, Co Antrim it marked the 1916 Easter Rising, the Great War and the first throes of independence for the Irish Free State. Antrim was one of six counties within the original nine-county province of Ulster. Partitioned and renamed, it was annexed: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At our family gatherings the older men, most of whom were seafarers, talked of the Rising, James Connolly, the much-feared Black and Tans and Irish Republicanism. When the political craic began Mum would send me and my cousins across to the park where I was introduced by older boys to hurley sticks.

This version of An Drúcht Geal Ceo by one of Belfast’s outstanding singers and another friend, Gráinne Holland, accompanied by some of Ireland’s fine musicians. A songwriter herself, her most recent album Corca has received exemplary reviews. This song reflects our shared history.

3. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit from the album The Billie Holiday Collection, 1999, lyrics by Abel Meeropol

University was ‘not for the likes of us’. Tech College was the aspirational pinnacle. Thanks to my A Level Government tutor, Geraint Parry, it was in some trepidation I walked up Brownlow Hill to be interviewed by Robert Kilroy-Silk (aka ‘Kilroy’) to read Politics at Liverpool University. I was a fish out of water. As I left his immaculate, over-bearing study he thanked ‘Mr Scrotum’. Without hesitation, in my Scouse accent I replied, ‘I guess I made a balls of the interview’. He didn’t get it and I decided to follow the advice of another FE tutor, Joe Martindale, transferring my application to Sociology. It was a famous if fractured department. My studies suffered as I immersed in student politics – the sit-in, the Vietnam War, anti-Apartheid, the University’s involvement in chemical and biological warfare research and its antipathy to its local community, Liverpool 8.

I lived in the University Settlement in the heart of Toxteth. It was here I learnt of the death of Charles Wotton, aka Wootton, who in 1919 was chased by a racist mob into the River Mersey where he was stoned and drowned. Fifty years on, I witnessed police routinely stopping, searching and assaulting young Black men. At weekends young Black men and women routinely were turned back into their community by police officers as they ventured into the City centre or took the train to Southport. The racism directed against the well-established Black community eventually led to the 1980 and 1985 uprisings.

As a child, the music of Billie Holiday was often played in our house but I have no recollection of the song Strange Fruit. I first remember hearing it soon after I left the seminary. I had read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Another Country and was increasingly aware of the civil rights movement in the USA. Billie Holiday’s voice on the track was as haunting as the words: ‘Southern trees bear strange fruit/ Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/ Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze/ Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.’ Navigating the US ‘colour bar’ throughout her career Billie Holiday confronted racism. Living in Liverpool I saw the direct connection between the song, the death of Charles Wotton and institutionalised police racism.

4. Norma Waterson with Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy, “Moving On Song” from the album Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl, 2015, lyrics by Ewan MacColl

Dad died while I was at University. Mum lived alone in a flat above a shop. I struggled to support her, attend lectures, complete assignments and campaign. Called in by a studies advisor, a newly appointed South African, he was unimpressed by my arrest in Manchester at an anti-apartheid demonstration. He asked my future plans. ‘Research. Research into social justice’. He laughed dismissively, ‘Be realistic, you’ll never get a First, you’ll never make a researcher’. He was right about the degree classification.

That year I bought a first edition of If They Come In The Morning by Angela Davis and I decided to focus my dissertation on the Black Panther movement. The connection between her analysis and the experiences, recounted by my friends, of living in Liverpool’s Black community, was clear. The polemics of Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, George Jackson, Bobby Seale alongside the anti-colonial work of Frantz Fanon awakened me to what was happening in Liverpool.

Yet, it was witnessing the brutal eviction of Irish Travellers from derelict land, that had a profound, life-changing impact. A Catholic priest asked me to monitor a 5am eviction of Traveller families from a derelict site on Everton Brow. A leaflet circulated throughout the local housing estates and high-rise blocks. It demanded the local authority evict the ‘Irish tinkers’, the ‘dirty parasites’, threatening ‘Get the tinkers out or else’. A Warrington councillor, echoing the Holocaust and etched in the Travellers’ collective memory, called for a ‘Final solution’ to the ‘Gypsy problem’.

At first light shift workers from a local car manufacturing factory, hired by a private security agency, tore trailers (caravans) from their supports while helpless families, awakened from their sleep, huddled together against the early morning cold. The Police stood by to protect the ‘bailiffs’, ensuring there was no resistance to the trail of destruction. An eviction in the Midlands had killed three young children trapped inside a blazing trailer when it was dragged onto its side.

In Liverpool’s courts we successfully fought the eviction, founded the Travellers’ Free School on the site. In a seemingly progressive move the local education authority funded four teachers. Soon, however, their intention became clear: not to adapt on-site schooling to the Travellers’ way of life, but to assimilate their children into mainstream schools.

Chronicling structural inequalities throughout the 20th Century, Ewan MacColl’s songs have been profoundly influential. The Moving On Song reflects the racism I witnessed: ‘You’d better get born in some place else/ So move along, get along/ Move along, get along/ Go! Move! Shift!’ This version is sung by the remarkable Norma Waterson, accompanied by Martin and Eliza Carthy. Eliza’s excellent introduction is on YouTube:

5. Johnny Cash, San Quentin” from the album Johnny Cash at San Quentin, 1969/2000

While working on the Traveller site, I registered for a part-time research Masters. Back at the University I tutored first year Sociology students. I also taught a Criminology class in Liverpool’s Walton Prison. The irony wasn’t lost on me. My prison introduction brought me to another fork in the research road. I arrived at the gate; hair shoulder-length, shirt collarless, random waistcoat and black jeans. Behind the screen in the entrance hall I watched as guards mocked – a feature of the informal control they exert to this day. Left for twenty minutes beyond the class start time, two guards escorted me to the classroom. To each other, purposefully in earshot, the mocking continued.

Walking through the Victorian prison I wretched from the overwhelming stench from piss-pots in shared cells. Prisoners wrapped faeces in newspapers, dropping the bundle from cell windows. Outside, prisoners on ‘shit detail’ shovelled the accumulating pile into wheelbarrows. Arriving at the class, now half an hour late, there was uproar directed at the guards who exited quickly. I realised at least a third of the class was absent. ‘Where are the others?’ I asked. ‘They didn’t unlock them. No reason. That’s what it’s like in here. The screws do what they want, no come-back’.

This was my first day of many years visiting, researching and occasionally teaching in prisons throughout Europe, the USA and Australia. My co-authored and co-edited books on prison uprisings, women’s imprisonment and deaths in custody, alongside academic and media articles, are built on the foundations of those early classes in Walton. Witnessing directly the worst excesses of incarceration – strip cells, solitary confinement, physical cages, cells within cells, hunger strikes, alongside the mind-numbing routine of lock-down and isolation, guards wearing National Front insignia on the reverse side of their lapels – left me never doubting the destructive impact wrought by the deprivation of liberty. These experiences, and my collaboration with fine international researchers, campaigners and, most significantly, former prisoners, underpin my commitment to decarceration and prison abolition.

In 1968 Johnny Cash, his band and June Carter Cash, recorded and issued the live album, Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison. A year later came the follow-up from within what was considered the notorious San Quentin jail. Both albums protested against the futility of jailing prisoners long-term, releasing them with neither hope nor opportunity. This reflects my experience of teaching and researching in jails – more than half a decade on the words of the song San Quentin remain pertinent across the world’s carceral States: ‘San Quentin, you’ve been a livin’ hell to me//San Quentin, I hate every inch of you/ You’ve cut me and you’ve scarred me through and through/ And I’ll walk out a wiser weaker man// You bent my heart and mind and you warp my soul//May your walls fall and may I live to tell/ May all the world forget you ever stood/ And may all the world regret you did no good.

6. Bruce Springsteen, “American Skin (41 Shots)” from the album High Hopes, 2014

In 1979 I was contacted by the family of Jimmy Kelly. The 53-year-old was not in the best of health, had been drinking in his local and was heading home across waste ground. He was in good voice, many of the neighbours familiar with the songs he always sang on his brief journey. A police car pulled up. Jimmy Kelly was told he was causing a disturbance. His response was dismissive and two police officers decided to arrest him, trying to push him onto the back seat of a two-door vehicle. Resisting, he fell out of the car onto rubble. A police minibus arrived. Now semi-conscious, he was loaded onto the minibus floor by the four officers. At Huyton Police Station they lifted him, now unconscious, from the minibus, dropping him on his head. Eventually they laid him down on his back in the charge room where he urinated and died. Jimmy Kelly’s family together with Celia Stubbs, the partner of Blair Peach, and several other families, met with myself and Tony Ward in London and we formed INQUEST: United Campaigns for Justice.

Throughout four decades, working with bereaved families, the organisation has been central to their campaigns for justice and coronal reform. In 1987 with Kathryn Chadwick I co-authored In the Arms of the Law: Coroners’ Inquests and Deaths in Custody demonstrating the disproportionate numbers of Black women and men who had died at the hands of the police or in prison custody. The same year I edited Law, Order and the Authoritarian State charting the police use of unlawful force against Black communities in UK cities. I adopteded Stokely Carmichael’s term ‘institutionalised racism’ to describe policing the inner cities and the incarceration of Black people. Subsequently this challenged Macpherson’s notion of ‘institutional racism’. While he concluded that racism was endemic in attitudes throughout the institution, I argued that it was inherent in police and prison histories, their fabric, training and policies (stop and search, for example), therefore institutionalised.

American Skin (41 Shots), written by Bruce Springsteen twenty years ago and performed with the E Street Band, each taking a turn at the microphone to repeat the words ‘41 Shots’. The song focuses on the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo by four New York City plain-clothes police officers who fired forty-one shots. They were found not guilty of second degree murder and reckless endangerment. It cuts to the heart of institutionalised racism underpinning, protecting and reproducing excesses of State authoritarianism.

We have all Springsteen’s albums, including numerous bootlegs, and we rarely miss a tour. Each new piece of equipment added to our sound systems is initiated by a Springsteen track. Rarely a week passes without a Springsteen album playing somewhere in the house. Yes, sad but true!

7. Eddi Reader, “What You Do with What You’ve Got” from the album Mirmana, 1992, lyrics by Eddi Reader and US Activist, Si Kahn

I first knew of Eddi Reader as lead singer in Fairground Attraction and the band’s one hit, ‘Perfect’. In 1992 she released her first solo album. At her gigs, blending humour and pathos she reflects on her roots in working-class Irvine. Here the foundation was laid to the resilience and generosity of spirit resulting in a succession of excellent albums and sell-out live performances. Her album The Songs of Robert Burns. In the sleeve notes she reflects on self-doubt that impacts on all of us who experience class marginalisation. At school, she writes, ‘I often thought Robert Burns was for the highbrow and not for the likes of me, the hardly educated, council estate, overspill girl … now I see that I was wrong and that I am precisely the person Burns wrote for … he was a spokesman for the glorious in the ordinary, the sublime in the mundane’.

Eddi Reader’s long-time collaboration with Boo Howerdine, and her more recent co-writing with her partner John Douglas has resulted in many fine albums. The three multi-talented writers and musicians regularly perform with the fine Alan Kelly Band. I regularly return to her version of the song ‘What You Do with What You’ve Got’ from her debut solo album. It has also been recorded by her fellow Scottish singer songwriter, Dick Gaughan. Simple but inspirational, it reflects my personal commitment to research, teaching and writing; a commitment I have tried to pass on to my children and my students: ‘It’s not just what you’re born with/ It’s what you choose to bear/ It’s not how big your share is/ It’s how much you can share/ It’s not the fights you dreamed of/ It’s those you really fought/ It’s not what you’ve been given/ It’s what you do with what you’ve got.

8. Bruce Springsteen, “Chimes of Freedom” (Live) from the EP Chimes of Freedom, 1988, lyrics by Bob Dylan

Our sons, Paul and Sean, and their families live in Berlin. We have grown familiar with the City and its complex history. On 19 July 1988 Bruce Springsteen played in former East Berlin.  Erich Honecker, then General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, unwittingly agreed to the gig seemingly without anticipating it would draw a massive crowd in excess of four hundred thousand. It was an immense moment, not least when – to a rapturous reception – Springsteen played Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom. It was received as an endorsement of the consolidating youth movement. Sixteen months later the Berlin Wall was torn down with pick axes and bare hands as Border guards watched on. Yet, as the former East German population experienced, unification within divided societies is never delivered in the moment. Living and researching in the North of Ireland, where over 50 Peace Walls remain, it is evident that following political agreement to end conflict, transition to peace is a journey over several generations.

9. Christy Moore with Declan Sinnott, “On Morecombe Bay” from Folk Tale, 2011, lyrics by Kevin Littlewood

I first saw Christy Moore at St George’s Hall, Liverpool in the mid-1970s at a fund-raiser for Chilean exiles. Together with Liam O’Flynn, Andy Irvine and Dónal Lunny the newly formed band was Planxty. He went on to play in Moving Hearts before many more years travelling on the road with Declan Sinnott. Unfinished Revolution is the album I play most regularly. Remarkable tracks include Biko Drum, Natives, Unfinished Revolution and the song I had played on Desert Island Discs, On the Bridge. This song pays tribute to Irish Republican women punitively strip-searched in Armagh Jail. Little did I know then that decades later I would be visiting and researching with women in Mourne House, the high security women’s prison at Maghaberry jail.

Christy Moore is a chronicler and collector of powerful songs. Encyclopaedic in scope they provide a library of historical and contemporary political commentaries. They include Burning Times – a tribute to women murdered as witches; The Magdalen Laundries – a tribute to women incarcerated by religious orders; Viva la Quinta Brigada – the Spanish Civil War; They Never Came Home – on those who died in the 1981 Stardust fire; Does This Train Stop on Merseyside? – with reference to the Hillsborough disaster. I have chosen On Morecombe Bay, a song that resonates with my current research and writing. It tells of the deaths in 2004 of 23 men and women Chinese cockle-pickers working for gang-masters and, mobile phones in hand, drowned by the incoming tide: ‘I see them in the distance, laid out in the morning light/ 23 migrant workers drowned last night/ Their final phone calls halfway round the world crossed/ As between the river estuaries they raced the tide and lost’.

10. Thea Gilmore, “Rise” from The Counterweight, 2017, lyrics by Thea Gilmore

It was purely by chance that we came across Thea Gilmore. She had just turned 20 and already had released three albums. It was a small gig at Liverpool University’s Student Union. For the next two decades her reflective lyrics and her strong and varied song-writing have delivered a succession of outstanding songs. Throughout her numerous albums she turned her back on major labels, retaining her independence. In 2017 she released The Counterweight.Its cover graphic balances a white origami hand grenade, pin intact, against a white origami peace dove. A powerful image reflecting a significant moment in time: Johnny Gets a Gun – the shootings in Orlando; The War – the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox with the lyric: ‘When the wolf’s at the door/ In the tide of hate/ Throw down the counterweight’; Debt – and the haunting desperation of poverty. The track I’ve chosen is the beautiful Rise, a song of hope in the teeth of isolation: ‘C’mon reach you’ll see/ The river’s not that wide/ Now reach for me/ And bridge that dark divide/ C’mon and rise’.

Her writing returns me to the special hospitals and prisons I’ve visited and the destructive force of loneliness; to the moment in Shotts Prison Hospital where TC Campbell had been admitted having collapsed on a hunger strike to proclaim his innocence. Drifting in and out of consciousness, alone and helpless, I implored him to end his protest: ‘TC, if you die you will die convicted of a crime you didn’t commit’. I left the prison in tears and in hope. Days later he took food. In March 2004 the Court of Appeal ruled there had been a grave miscarriage of justice: ‘C’mon and rise’.

11. Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, “One Man’s England” from What Have We Become 2014, lyrics by Paul Heaton

When The Housemartins came on the scene it was soon clear that the lead singers, Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway, had fine, engaging voices. Coincidentally, my partner Deena had been at Sixth Form College with Quentin Cook – who became Norman Cook and, finally, Fatboy Slim. The Housemartins’ major hit was Caravan of Love. Heaton and Hemingway went on to form the highly successful Beautiful South. Between 1994 and 2000 Jacqui Abbott was in the band. Following its tenth album the band split, Heaton released several solo albums before coming together again with Abbott. Since 2014 they have released four excellent albums, their live gigs sell-out, but they have not sold out on their politics. Each album blends sharp, often humorous, observation of the everyday, the ordinary, with strong attacks on have-it-all consumerism and the resurgence of ultra-right politics and racism, including anti-Irish racism.

In One Man’s England, answering the question in the album’s title – What Have We Become – they train their sights on the mendacity of hedge-fund accountants and politicians in their thrall; the wheelers, the dealers in the City. The lyrics are direct – they’re meant to be. In nine scathing verses they provide a road-map to my experiences of the politics of marginalisation that criminalise the poor, the ‘immigrant’, the addicted. ‘The real criminal ain’t living/ In a run-down council flat/ He’s residing on a beach somewhere/ Panama cigar and hat/ The real terrorist ain’t sporting a beard/ Or reading the Quran/ He’s sitting in 10 Downing Street/ And he works for Uncle Sam’. Reductionist? Well, maybe … but the ultimate test of a society built around ideologies of class, race and gender is how it responds to those most in need. My current work on deaths of vulnerable people in care homes during the covid pandemic is caught in two hauntingly prophetic lines: ‘Hypocrisy pours from the cracks in the floors/ To the gaps that appear in the ceiling’.

12. Gerry and the Pacemakers, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the album The Best of Gerry and the Pacemakers, 2005, lyrics by Rogers and Hammerstein

It is difficult to imagine what Rogers and Hammerstein would have made of fifty-thousand voices singing You’ll Never Walk Alone, written for Carousel, their highly successful musical. Fans of Liverpool Football Club made it their anthem, for decades binding their hopes, aspirations and solidarity the ambitions of the players. I guess it was never considered that the song would be adopted as a hymn, sung every year to close the Memorial Service honouring the 96 men, women and children who, on 15 April 1989, died supporting Liverpool in an FA Cup Semi-Final held at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. For a decade the popular belief was that drunk, violent, late-arriving fans without tickets had caused the crush. The initial inquest verdict gave the cause of death as ‘accidental’, triggering campaigns by bereaved families and supporters that would run for a quarter of a century.

Within months of the tragedy I founded the Hillsborough Project. We published two extensive reports, in 1990 and 1995, challenging the official inquiries, the failure to prosecute those in authority and the inquest verdict. Our findings laid the foundation for Jimmy McGovern’s 1996 award-winning drama-documentary, Hillsborough. Three years later, despairing that the official narrative would ever change, I published the first edition of Hillsborough: The Truth revealing how the evidence to the judicial inquiry and inquests had been altered by the police. Again, nothing happened.

In 2010, following the Hillsborough families’ approach to the Labour Government, an independent panel was appointed to review and analyse all available documents held by the multiple institutions and many individuals involved on the day. I headed the research and two years later we published the 400-page detailed report. The 153 findings, criticising the Police, the investigators, the ambulance service, the local authority, the stadium architects and its owners, were explosive. They brought a ‘double apology’ from the Conservative Government for the disaster and for what amounted to a cover-up. The Report led to the quashing of the inquest verdicts and the ordering of new inquests, the largest criminal investigation – alongside the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation – in UK history. The two-year long inquest found 25 substantial institutional failures, the majority against the police. It concluded that those who died had been unlawfully killed, exonerating the fans of any responsibility for the disaster.

In 2016 a fourth edition of Hillsborough: The Truth was published. I was research consultant on, and participant in, Dan Gordon’s BAFTA award-winning documentary Hillsborough. ‘Walk on through the wind/ Walk on through the rain/ Though your dreams be tossed and blown/ Walk on, walk on/ With hope in your heart/ And you’ll never walk alone.

13. First Aid Kit, “You Are The Problem Here

For three decades I have taught a Masters module, Gender, Sexuality and Violence. I first saw First Aid Kit when they played the Black Box, Belfast. This song addresses the responsibility for violence against women.

And finally …

14. Chumbawamba, a gig.

One of the most engaging, challenging live bands of the last decades was Chumbawamba. I saw them many times, always leaving lifted and inspired. Here’s their final gig at Leeds City Varieties with a cameo appearance of the late great Roy Bailey, Sociologist and Musician … not to be missed.

The playlist can be listened to in full here.

Phil Scraton PhD, DLaws (Hon), DPhil (Hon) is Professor Emeritus, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. He has held visiting professorships at Amherst College, USA, the Universities of Auckland, Monash, New South Wales and Sydney. Widely published on critical theory, incarceration and children/ young people his books include: In the Arms of the Law – Coroners’ Inquests and Deaths in Custody; No Last Rights – The Promotion of Myth and the Denial of Justice in the Aftermath of the Hillsborough Disaster; Identifying and Resolving Inter-Agency Conflict in the Aftermath of Disaster; Hillsborough The Truth; Power, Conflict and Criminalisation; The Incarceration of Women; Women’s Imprisonment and the Case for Abolition. Co-author of reports for the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People (Children’s Rights) and the NI Human Rights Commission (Women in Prison). Member of the Liberty Advisory Committee on deaths in custody, he led the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s research team and was principal author of its ground-breaking 2012 Report, Hillsborough. Seconded to the families’ legal teams throughout the 2014-2016 inquests, in 2016 he published a revised edition of Hillsborough: The Truth. Consultant on, and contributor to, the 2017 BAFTA winning ESPN/BBC documentary Hillsborough, he holds a Leverhulme Fellowship addressing the unique work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the legal processes that followed. In 2018, with Rebecca Scott Bray at the University of Sydney, he co-convened community-based research programme on coroners’ inquests into deaths in custody and during arrest. Currently he is lead investigator for the Irish Council of Civil Liberties’ research project Deaths in Contested Circumstances and Coroners’ Inquests. He has been awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in recognition of his Hillsborough research.

2 thoughts on “Phil Scraton: A Sociological Playlist

  1. Phil

    Great insights into your personal history in both music and text. Now I know ‘what floats your boat’ – or rather – slips your disc.

    John B

  2. I absolutely loved the insight this gives into your personal upbringing and experiences, and can’t help but draw parallels with many of your experiences in Liverpool with issues that are coming to the forefront of our lives in 2020. I also love the Irish influence in this playlist!

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