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Dr Mary Laing nee Whowell

Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Department: Social Sciences

Mary joined the Department of Social Sciences in September 2010.

Prior to this she completed both an undergraduate and MA degree at Manchester University in human geography, a PhD in human geography at Loughborough University, and a post-doc funded by a Commonwealth Scholarship in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences at Northumbria University.


PhD Human Geography, Loughborough University 2009
MA Human Geography, University of Manchester 2005
BA (Hons) Geography, University of Manchester 2004

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Mary's research interests centre on the regulation and criminalization of sex and sexualities, with a focus on the sex industry. She has a specific interest in sex work policy and participatory and inclusive methodologies. She is the Academic trustee on the board of National Ugly Mugs (NUM), a national award-winning sex worker safety organisation. She leads on research issues for NUM and has contributed to local, national and international consultations on sex work policy and law. She submitted evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry (2016), which included survey work completed with NUM members and was reported on in The Independent newspaper.

Current/Recent Projects

2018: Being an ‘impactful academic’: A case study of sex work academics in Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Kingdom. With Ian Cook (Northumbria University), Tom Baker (The University of Auckland) and Octavia Calder-Dawe (Massey University, New Zealand).

2017: TransActions: A project for trans people who sell sex. With NUM, Harley and Angelika Strohmayer. Seed funded by the Open Lab, Newcastle University, £2,500.

2013: Evaluation of the National Ugly Mugs Scheme. With Jane Pitcher and Adele Irving. Funded by the Home Office, £7,400.

2011-2013: Peer research with female sex workers in Newcastle upon Tyne. With Adele Irving and Changing Lives. Funded by Northern Rock Foundation, £7,500.

2009-2010: At the interface of criminal and municipal law: regulating adult entertainment in Canada. Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, Government of Canada, £20,600.

2006-2009: Inappropriate sexualities? The practice, performance and regulation of male sex work in Manchester. PhD funded by Loughborough University, £35,000.

Key Publications

McMenzie, L., Cook, I. R. and Laing, M. (forthcoming) Criminological policy mobilities and sex work: understanding the movement of the 'Swedish model' to Northern Ireland. The British Journal of Criminology.

Laing, M. (forthcoming) Sex work: theory, practice, regulation. London: Routledge.

Strohmayer, A., Laing, M. and Comber, R. (2018) 'Designing technologies with sex work support services: considerations for collaboration'. In Dewy, S., Crowhurst, I. and Izugbara, C. O. (eds.) Handbook of sex industry research. London: Routledge.

O’Neill. M. and Laing, M. (2018) Sex worker rights, recognition and resistance: towards a 'real politics of justice'. In Fitzgerald, S. A. and McGarry, K. (eds.) Realising justice for sex workers: an agenda for change. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 161-182.

Sanders, T. and Laing, M. (Eds.) (2018) Policing the sex industry: protection, paternalism and politicsLondon: Routledge.

Laing, M. Campbell, D. Jones, M. and Strohmayer, A. (2018) 'Trans sex workers in the UK: security, services and safety'. In Sanders, T. and Laing, M. (Eds.) (2018) Policing the sex industry: protection, paternalism and politics. London: Routledge, pp. 39-52.

Laing, M., Pitcher, K. and Smith, K. (2015) (eds.) Queer sex work. Abingdon: Routledge. 

Laing, M. and Cook, I. R. (2014) 'Governing sex work in the city'. Geography Compass, 8 (8), pp. 505-515.

Atkins, M. and Laing, M. (2012) 'Walking the beat and doing business: exploring spaces of male sex work and public sex'. Sexualities, 15 (5-6), pp. 622-643.

Whowell, M. (2010) 'Male sex work: exploring regulation in England and Wales'. Journal of Law and Society, 37 (1), pp. 125-144.

To view my Northumbria Research Link page click here


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