Dr Alec Pemberton

B.Soc. Stud. BA (First Class Honours) MA. (Qld.) Ph.D (Sydney)
Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy

F12 - Transient Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 4201

Research interests

A) Contemporary social problems: mental illness and the history of madness; poverty, deviance and social difference; Australian Social Policy.

B) Sociological Theory: Classical and Contemporary .

C) The application of the gospels (especially the parables of Jesus) to contemporary social issues (welfare policy, poverty). Currently completing a book ‘Parables, Politics, and People’.

D) Problems of Group Projects in University Teaching (using focus groups and formal evaluation survey data to assess and improve the use of group project work in teaching social science).

E) Controversies in the ‘Medicalisation of Madness’

Teaching and supervision

Recent Teaching:

  • SCLG 2601 Sociological Theory 2000-2009: (Lecturing and Tutoring);
  • SCLG2608 Social Construction of Difference : 2000-2006 (Course Coordinator);
  • SCLG2614 Madness, Difference and Normality : 2000-2006 (Course Coordinator);
  • SCPL2602 Contesting Social Policies: 2001-2006 (Course Coordinator);
  • SCLG4012 Advanced Issues in Sociological Research (Hons. Course) 2005,2006: (Course Coordinator);
  • SSCI2602 Social, Political and Economic Thought 2, 2006 (Course Coordinator);
  • SCLG 2604 Social Inequality in Australia, Summer School, 2008, 2009 (Course Coordinator);
  • SCLG2608 The Social Construction of Difference, Winter School, 2008; 2009 (Course Coordinator);
  • SCLG2613 The Sociology of Childhood and Youth, Tutor;
  • SCLG2609 The Sociology of Sport, Tutor
  • SCPL2601 Australian Social Policy, Semester One, 2009 (Course Coordinator).

Research Supervision:
Honours, Masters, and Doctoral Supervision (includes completions and three continuing Ph D students):

  • Andrew Lynch ( submitting, September, 2009)
  • Elizabeth Valmadre
  • Naomi Green



On call to NCOSS (NSW Council of Social Services)

Readership/advisor to Polity Press on Political Theory/philosophy text

Over ten years teaching Sociology to Psychiatry students(medical graduates) at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry.

Awards and honours

Grants, Fellowships and Awards:

  • Foundation Travelling Scholarship to Trinity College, Oxford, UK (from The University of Queensland) 1972-1976.
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Excellence Award 2001
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Initiative Award 2000
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Initiative Award 2001


Boreham, P. Pemberton, A. and Wilson, PR (eds.) (1976) The Professions in Australia, St. Lucia, Brisbane, The University of Queensland Press

Gardan, S., Pemberton, A. and Graham, V. (1972) Kalparrin: A Voluntary Agency Looks to Itself, St. Lucia, Brisbane, The University of Queensland Press

Chapters in Books
Pemberton, A.G. (1975) 'Social Class and Mental Illness: a critical appraisal' in Edwards, A. and Wilson, P R (eds.) Social Deviance in Australia, Melbourne, Cheshire, pp. 181-207

Pemberton, A. and Boreham P. (1976) 'Towards a Re-orientation of Sociological Studies of the Professions' pp. 15-41 in Boreham, P. et. al. (eds). The Professions in Australia, St. Lucia, Brisbane. The University of Queensland Press

Boreham, P. and Pemberton, A., Wilson, P.R. (ed.) (1977) 'The Helping Professions' in Of Public Concern, St. Lucia, Brisbane, The University of Queensland Press, pp. 247-262

Pemberton, A. (1976) 'Social Class and Mental Disorder' in Bates, E. and Wilson, P R (eds.) Mental Disorder or Madness, St. Lucia, Brisbane, The University of Queensland Press, pp.33-43

Pemberton, A. (1989) 'Panel Discussion on Charles Murray' in James, M. (ed.) The Welfare State, Sydney, CIS., pp. 245-46

Pemberton, A (1999) 'Practising Medicine in Moral Vacuum', pp. 157-171 in Psychiatrists Working Group (eds.) She Still Won't be Right, Mate: Will Managerialism Destroy Valves Based Medicine?, Melbourne, Psychiatrists Working Group

Articles in Referred Journals
Pemberton, A.G. and Locke, R. G. (1971) 'Towards a Radical Critique of Social Work and Welfare Ideology', Australian Journal of Social Issues, 6 (2) 95-107

Pemberton, A.G., Schacht, P.J. and Locke, R.G., (1972) 'Casework and Social Interaction Theory: Exchange and Interpersonal Negotiation'. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 7 (2) 91-104

Pemberton, A.G. and Sinnamon, I.I., (1972) 'Recruits to Architecture: An Empirical Profile to the Entering Student', Architecture in Australia, 6 (4), 688-693

Schacht, P.J. Pemberton, A.G. (1972) 'Some Issues in the Ethics of Social Work Control Group Research', Australian Social Work, 25 (4), 3-9

Pemberton, A.G., (1975) 'The Professional Knowledge Base: A Critical Essay', Australian Social Work, 28 (2), 5-15

Pemberton, A.G., Whitlock, F.A. and Wilson, P.R. (1975) 'Knowledge about where to Find Help: A Preliminary Analysis', Social Science and Medicine, 9 (8-9) 433-439

Pemberton, A.G. (1980) 'Doing Something About Nothing: A note on the Australian Government's Response to Dole Fraud', Australian New Zealand Journal of Sociology, 16 (3)

72-76. Pemberton, A.G. (1981) 'Efficient Practice Precedes the Theory of It: On the relationship between ideas and action in Social Casework', Australian Social Work, 34, (3) 21-26

Pemberton, A.G. (1982) 'Radical Critiques of Social Work and Welfare: a preliminary test of the Australian evidence', Australian Social Work, 35 (1), 29-35

Pemberton, A.G. (1982) 'Theory, Practice and Public Knowledge in the Helping Professions', Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 9 (2), 287-304

Pemberton, A.G. (1983) 'Marxism and Social Policy: a critique of the contradictions of welfare', Journal of Social Policy, 12 (3), 289-308

Pemberton, A.G. (1984) 'Class Conflict and Social Control in the Establishment of the Australian Welfare State: some unanswered questions', Australian Journal of Politica and History, 30, (1), 199-206

Schacht, P.J. and Pemberton, A.G. (1985). 'What is 'Unnecessary surgery' and who shall decide? Issues of consumer sovereignty and self-regulation', Social Science and Medicine 20 (1), 199-206

Pemberton, A.G. (1990) 'Rescuing the Good Samaritan: an exposition and defence of the Samaritan principle in the modern Welfare State', Journal of Social Policy, 19 (3), 281-298

Pemberton, A.G. (1990) 'Discipline and Pacification in the modern Administrative State: the case of welfare fraud in Australia', Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare (USA) 17(2), 125-142

Conference Papers / Addresses
Pemberton, A.G. (1981), 'Do the Helping Professions rest on a mistake about the application of social science knowledge? ANZAAS Conference, Brisbane May 1981, (Research Papers Section)

Pemberton, A.G., (1982) 'Is the concept of the "contradictions of welfare" more trouble than it really is worth?' Sociology Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, Sydney

Pemberton, A.G. (1985), 'Contradictory contradictory class locations: double trouble? Sociology Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, Brisbane

Pemberton, A.G., (1990), 'Is there a necessary connection between justice and peace?: A Christian perspective' AASWE National Conference on Violence and Society, University of Queensland

Pemberton, A. (2000) 'Mental Health: Conceptual, Polic yand Practice Tensions', Joint Seminar, Fukui Prefectural University/The University of Sydney, Sydney

Crowe, C. and Pemberton, A. (2002) 'But that's your job: peer assessments in collaborative learning' Teaching and Educational Development Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld

Crowe, C and Pemberton, A (2002) 'Interactive Lecturing with large classes; students' experiences and performance in Assessment', Teaching and Development Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld

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