Dr Richard Yuill, who was awarded his PhD in Sociology from Glasgow University in December 2004 is a Foucauldian researcher and critical analyst known for his work on Queer Theory and Intergenerational Sexualities.
Yuill is not presently working in this field.
Due to Yuill's legal agreement with the University of Glasgow, his highly controversial thesis was not published until December 2009 (it is now available at the University of Glasgow Library). For this work, he gained high distinction from examiners and colleagues alike, but was nevertheless defamed in the reactionary media.
Yuill's thesis tackles the range of contested positions on man-boy love from a sociological perspective. He applies both materialist and Foucauldian frameworks on late modern sexualities to the related subjects of childhood, adolescence and adult sexual attraction to children and young people. Yuill critiques both mainstream gay and "radical" feminist analyses on intergenerational sexualities for their reductionist and simplistic adoption of problematic and largely discredited "child sexual abuse" (CSA) assumptions on power, subjectivity and outcomes in such relationships. His approach provides a number of profound policy and theoretical insights on child, youth, and intergenerational sexual rights, coupled with a thoroughly comprehensive analysis of the likely direction future transformations towards wider forms of sexual citizenship and child empowerment will take.
Throughout the five years from 2000 to 2005, he faced two lengthy University Senate investigations, thefts of material from his office, a series of hysterical attacks from the Daily Mail, Guardian, News of the World, and the freelance journalist Marcello Mega. The Scottish Mail on Sunday and the Scottish edition of the News of the World tabloid published articles slating him. Yuill and Glasgow University decided to place the work on a 5-year access ban. A series of ad hominem political attacks and sensationalist media reporting by the Times Higher Education Supplement subsequently followed, with Liz Kelly, Chris Harrison, and Rachel O'Connell co-opting to provide negative and distorted commentaries on the PhD, despite having not even read it.
Radical Christian websites turned up the heat by describing Yuill as a "moral cretin".
In 2004, Yuill was attacked and libelled following an undercover investigation carried out by Ireen van Engelen. Van Engelen passed information on to the Scottish Daily Mail journalist Marcello Mega. Despite eventually failing to uncover highly sensitive information, Mega has since embarked on a campaign to discredit Yuill by referring to the fact that he once joined and visited Ipce for research purposes, as encouraged by said organisation. Mega also alleges that Yuill described himself as a "boylover" to Ipce members, a charge that if correct was likely to have been part of a standard naturalisation technique used by social researchers. The integrity of this accusation and what Mega infers from it is further called into question by his more recent comment that Yuill was discharged from teaching for "inappropriate sexual ‘horseplay’ with boys in his care". This defamatory accusation had previously led to a successful PCC report.
Later comments by David Pilgrim (2018) and Bethany Rose Lamont (2021)
In 2018, a UK based academic named David Pilgrim, whose work attempts to apply critical realist theory to intergenerational relations ("CSA" in his terms), critized Yuill for what he saw as "libertarian pleading" and allyship with "moral panic theory" on Yuill's part. Yuill wrote a response to this, which remains unpublished and is instead made available here with permission of the author.
This not the first time Pilgrim has faced criticism for his comments against reseachers he opposes. The scholars Mark Smith, Vivien E. Cree, and Gary Clapton, who have applied moral panic theory to analyze UK child protection discourses in articles such as Moral panics and social work: Towards a sceptical view of UK child protection (2012), and the edited volume Revisiting Moral Panics (2015), wrote that Pilgrim had decided "to use our book, Revisiting moral panics (Cree et al, 2015), to construct a straw man, which needs to be knocked down to preserve his own particular view of child sexual abuse." Pilgrim responded, making "a brief concession [...] to a couple of points". Later, in October 2020, Dr. Yuill's response to Pilgrim also criticized him for his use of "straw men arguments," and further, sees Pilgrim's tone and arguments as "a disservice to academic discourse and professional conduct." Yuill wrote:
"The issue of protecting children and young people from sexual abuse is certainly one that academics and policy makers should take seriously. There is no argument there and I actually carried out interviews with several male survivors of abuse. The fact that I conducted research which also looked at marginalised positions (boylovers and positive accounts from young people of their sexual relationships with adults) should be the bread and butter of any serious ethnographic researcher."
In 2021, Bethany Rose Lamont, a "writer and researcher in trauma and visual culture", and founder of Doll Hospital Journal, made inaccurate and unsubstantiated comments about Yuill's research. In an article written for what appears to be a third-tier journal, The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, she falsely claimed that Yuill gave immunity to sex offenders who admitted to offenses that had not come to the attention of authorities.
- "When I began my PhD at Glasgow University in 1999, I appreciated that the "reality" of researching male age-discrepant/intergenerational sexualities and relationships would likely prove a hotly contested topic. But I did not anticipate that my mother and I would be subjected to offensive phone-calls; two lengthy Senate investigations; having sensitive material stolen from my office and passed on to a journalist; explaining my research to officers from the Serious Crime Squad; the News of the World taking a photo of me inside our house; and, finally, a series of ill-informed political attacks."
Other major works
Despite censorship of his work from Sociological Research Online, Sexualities, and Sociological Review, Yuill has published two Encyclopedia articles in “The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology” in 2007, and Greenwood’s “Love, Courtship and Sexuality through history, Volume 6” in 2008. He has also published a critical commentary of Diederik Janssen's "Re-Queering queer youth development: A Post-Developmental Approach to Childhood and Pedagogy" entitled "Re-scheduling child sexual trajectories” in the Journal of LGBT Youth, 2008, 5(3). Written with Dean Durber, "‘Querying’ the Limits of Queering Boys Through the Contested Discourses on Sexuality" was published in Sexuality & Culture.
Yuill has collaborated with Bruce Rind, publishing a 2012 paper on the topic of Hebephilia, within its historical and anthropological context. This followed academic controversy over the idea of Hebephilia as a form of pathology - something Yuill and Rind argue is ahistorical.
Yuill himself details his experience of facing researcher stigma and media attack in his 2010 scholarly article Interrogating the Essential: Moral Baselines on Adult-Child Sex , and documents attacks on himself and past researchers most fully in his book chapter Intergenerational Sexualities: A Case Study on the Colonization of Late Modern Sexual Subjects and Researcher Agendas (2013). The historian Rachel Hope Cleves summarizes Yuill's story in her 2020 book Unspeakable: A Life Beyond Sexual Morality, examining once famous and influential pederast Norman Douglas [reviewed here] and seeing Yuill's case as an example of the potential risks of writing and publishing on intergenerational relations.
- Holyrood.com archive
- Press Complaints Commission archive
- Critical Realism
- Moral panics and social work: Towards a sceptical view of UK child protection
- Revisiting Moral Panics
- Cree et al p223
- Cree et al p351
- Richard Yuill's 2020 Letter
- Lamont, B., (2021) “Can We Approach the Subject of Child Sexual Abuse Ethically in Academia? Towards a Queer Ethics of CSA Analysis”, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 21(1), p.49-62.
- Interrogating the Essential: Moral Baselines on Adult-Child Sex
- Archive.org: Censoring Sex Research