BA (Hons), PhD (Newcastle)


Deborah Stevenson is an internationally acknowledged urban sociologist, a leader in cultural policy studies and a pioneer of cultural planning. Working in partnership with public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, she has been Chief Investigator on three ARC Linkage projects and an advisor and consultant to all three tiers of government. Her public policy contributions include invited membership of the Ministerial Reference Group for the NSW Arts and Cultural Policy Framework. Her research is used by the Australia Council for the Arts and has directly informed the cultural policies of the NSW state and nine local governments, while her cultural plan for Newcastle City Council is at the forefront of national practice. An invited participant at industry fora, most recently for the NSW Department of Environment and Planning, she led the first major study of the Social Impact of the Arts for Create NSW. As Social Sustainability Advisor to ABN-AMRO, she played a central role in shaping the social ecology of the landmark Darwin Waterfront redevelopment. Her most recent ARC Linkage research on the establishment of the new Powerhouse Museum in the city of Parramatta applies an innovative academic research agenda that intersects with, and informs, the development of museum activities and protocols of community engagement. Internationally, she has engaged in cultural planning consultations in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Professor Stevenson’s research distinctively focuses on the nexus between cultural policy, urban cultures, social forces, and city building, being interdisciplinary and innovative in combining urban sociology and cultural policy studies. Her research continually moves between academic contexts and a range of social settings where the production and consumption of culture increasingly demand socially and culturally inclusive policies and practices. As lead Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery project UNESCO and the Making of Global Cultural Policy, she is working closely with the UNESCO Secretariat for the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in reconceptualising its cultural policy agenda. Professor Stevenson has published or forthcoming 17 authored/edited books (7 translations) with leading international publishers, including Routledge, Polity and Sage. Her work appears in prestigious, high-impact journals such as Sociology, International Journal of Cultural Policy, and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. With career research earnings approaching million, Professor Stevenson has been CI on 9 successful ARC grants, supervised 15 PhD completions, sits on the editorial advisory boards of leading journals and the Palgrave book series New Directions in Cultural Policy Research. She peer reviews for international research funding bodies, is a member of the European Science Foundation College of Experts, and regularly receives invitations to speak at conferences and to participate in panels concerning culture and policy.

Having held positions at the University of Newcastle, UTS, and Western Sydney University, Professor Stevenson has made a major contribution to university governance, research, scholarship, and pedagogy, including through her roles as Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Research (WSU), Foundation Dean of the Graduate Research School (WSU), and Head of the School of Social Sciences (WSU).

2015: Research Professor, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University

2011-2015: Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Research, Western Sydney University

2007-2010: Professor and Head, School of Social Sciences, Western Sydney University

2005-2006: Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

2002-2004: Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head, School of Social Sciences, University of Newcastle

1997-2001: Lecturer, Department of Leisure and Tourism Studies, University of Newcastle

1995-1997: Lecturer and Director of the Arts Management Programs, UTS, Sydney

2014-2020: Honorary Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath

2016: Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria

  1. Stevenson, D (forthcoming) Cultural Policy Beyond the Economy: Work, Value, and the Social. London: Edward Elgar.
  2. Stevenson, D (2017) Cities of Culture: A Global Perspective. London: Routledge. (First published in 2014.)
  3. Stevenson, D (2020) ‘The Unfashionable Cultural Worker: Considering the Demography and Practice of Artists in Greater Western Sydney’, The International Journal of Cultural Policy 26(1): 61-80.
  4. Stevenson, D (2021) ‘Engendering Culture: Accumulating Capital in the Gendered Household’, in T Bennett, D Carter, M Gayo, M Kelly & G Noble (eds) Fields, Capitals, Habitus: Culture and Social Relations in Contemporary Australia. London and New York: Routledge.
  5. Stevenson, D (2020) ‘Rethinking Creative Cities?: UNESCO, Sustainability, and Making Urban Cultures’, in X Gu, M Kho Lim & J O’Connor (eds) Re-imaging Creative Cities in 21st-Century Asia. London: Palgrave Macmillan.