Michael Joseph Naughton was born and raised in Nelson, Lancashire, to Irish parents. He attended Ss John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School, Colne, Lancashire. He left school aged 16 and undertook a craft apprenticeship in mechanical engineering at a local aerospace engineering company. In all, he worked for four different companies during his engineering career, rising to foreman of two departments in the last company that he worked for – machine shop and maintenance department.

In his mid-20s, Michael took several BTEC courses in mechanical engineering related subjects at local colleges to enhance his engineering qualifications and progress his engineering career. His enjoyment for learning saw him obtain A levels in Mathematics (Burnley College) and Sociology (Nelson and Colne College) during this period, too.

In his early 30s, Michael suffered an industrial injury which cut his engineering career short, but became the catalyst for a change of direction that saw him utilise his qualifications and enrol for a degree in sociology at the University of Bristol as a mature student.

Michael graduated from the University of Bristol, UK, with a BSc First Class (Hons)  in Sociology in 1996 and obtained a PhD in Sociology at Bristol in 2003. His PhD thesis was on the routine nature of miscarriages of justice as evidenced by successful appeals against criminal conviction and the extensive forms of harm that are caused by such miscarriages of justice to victims, their families and society as a whole from a zemiological perspective. In terms of theory, it also conceptualised the power relations at play utilizing ideas from Michel Foucault’s thoughts, particularly on power/knowledge and governmentality. It formed the basis of his first book: Rethinking Miscarriages of Justice: Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg (2007. Palgrave Macmillan).

In 2003-04, following his doctoral research, Michael succeeded in an application for a prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which he undertook in the Department of Sociology, University of Bristol. This allowed him the support necessary to publish several articles in leading peer-reviewed academic journals and to devise and deliver his own undergraduate unit on crime and justice, which helped him to secure an academic post.

In 2004, Michael’s second career within academia formally began when aged 42, at the completion of his postdoctoral year, the University of Bristol offered him a Lectureship in Sociology and Law with an innovative split role between the University of Bristol Law School and the Department of Sociology. He achieved accelerated progression to Senior Lecturer in 2007. He was promoted in 2012 to Reader in Sociology and Law across the Law School and the then newly formed School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS).