I'm beyond honoured to receive this award from Staffordshire University and maybe, uncharacteristically, lost for words. I hope I can support this thriving community of students and academics as best I can in return
Born in Sheffield, Owen spent his childhood in Stockport, Greater Manchester. Degree studies took him to University College, Oxford, where he read History, graduating in 2005.
Prior to his media career, Owen worked as a trade union and parliamentary researcher. More recently he has become widely known as a political commentator, broadcaster, author and columnist – formerly at The Independent before moving to The Guardian.
His first book, Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class, was published in 2011, followed by his second, The Establishment: And how they get away with it, published by Penguin last year. Television appearances include several for the BBC including BBC One’s Question Time, and numerous news programmes for Sky and Channel 4.
In 2013 Owen delivered the Royal Television Society Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture entitled ‘Totally Shameless: How TV Portrays the Working Class’, and spoke at the press conference launch of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Later that year he addressed crowds at Glastonbury Festival to rail against injustice and nuclear weapons.
This year he joined Brit award-winning singer Paloma Faith on stage at London’s O2 arena in a bid to re-engage young music audiences with politics. He will be a guest speaker at the Durham Miners’ Gala later this summer.
In the run up to this year’s General Election, Owen was intensively engaged campaigning and lobbying around the country, and stimulating almost 300,000 twitter followers with his politically charged commentary.
Owen was named 2012 Stonewall Journalist of the Year, and in 2013 Young Writer of the Year at the Political Book Award, when he split the prize money donating half to Disabled People Against Cuts and half to a Labour Party parliamentary candidate.
The award of Honorary Doctor of the University is bestowed upon Owen in recognition of his trajectory career as an award winning author and journalist and, more importantly, as a champion for social justice. It acknowledges his critical contribution to highlighting the impact of class and poverty on health, wellbeing and participation in society. The award further celebrates him as a role model for students and graduates on a range of university awards in our School of Social Work, Allied and Public Health and School of Journalism, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Owen said, “I'm beyond honoured to receive this award from Staffordshire University and maybe, uncharacteristically, lost for words. I hope I can support this thriving community of students and academics as best I can in return."