Dr Daniel McCarthy is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey. He has studied police engagement in early intervention work with young offenders, and is currently exploring how imprisonment affects prisoners' parents - funded by an ESRC Future Research Leaders grant.
Why did you pursue an academic career?
From early on in life I've always had a passion for independent study and the discovery of new ideas about the natural and social world. Although growing up I never really knew what an academic was, it was not until I became a stroppy teenager that I started to form a critical approach to society and issues of injustice – becoming a sociologist was an inevitable pathway! On reflection, this appetite for critical investigation still persists. Despite all the negative reports of changes to higher education, I still regard being an academic as one of those rare occupations where you have the freedom to think and work out problems and puzzles in ways that you have a fair amount of autonomy over.
What career achievements are you most proud of?
Receiving an ESRC Future Research Leaders award in 2014 is my highest academic achievement to date, followed by jointly winning the 'best article' prize for policing research from the British Society of Criminology in 2014 (the BSC Policing Network Early Career Prize).
What is the most important issue society is facing today?
Although it is not my immediate field of expertise, I would say poverty ranks as arguably the biggest social problem facing society today. Because poverty has so many different dimensions, from lack of basic humans needs to structural injustice and corruption, it is highly complex and destructive for human beings, from the cradle to the grave.
What do you feel is the most important finding of economics and social science over the past 50 years?
This is very difficult to answer. I would probably say Gary Becker's work on microeconomics of non-market human behaviour, simply because of its range of influence on social scientists.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the ESRC.