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About Me

Intellectual Biography

I started my PhD in October 2008, having previously undertaken an MA in Social Research and an MA in Philosophy and Social Theory. I did a BA in analytic philosophy at University College London. When I came to Warwick I originally intended to study Continental Philosophy for a year before moving back to London. However within a few weeks, having encountered social theory for the first time, I had switched to the Philosophy and Social Theory MA so that I would have more freedom to attend seminars in both the Philosophy and Sociology departments. Until my second term here I still intended to undertake a PhD in Political Philosophy and was in the process of clarifying my idea and applying for funding when it began to occur to me that my interest in the subject was largely critical: I would argue that a critique of the formalism inherent in much contemporary political philosophy (at least of the Anglo-American variety) leads inevitably to a Sociological account of the normative experience of contemporary politics.

One big influence in this regard was the work of Chantel Mouffe who offers a potent critique of how a variety of influential work in political and social theory (particularly Habermas, Rawls, Beck and Giddens) serves to obscure the realities of the political domain, as formalism and a desire for theoretical closure preclude an adequate account of political agency. While her reliance on Lacanian psychoanalysis problematically reintroduces an entirely different kind of formalism, engaging with Mouffe's work had a significant impact on my thinking. Another key influence was the work of Charles Taylor who I first encountered through his engagements with academic debates regarding liberalism, communitarianism and multiculturalism. His political theory is intimately connected with his social theory and his philosophical anthropology. I soon decided to drop my plans for a Philosophy PhD and instead enrolled on the MA in Social Research before starting my PhD in October 2008. This is how I got to Sociology, despite having had no encounter with it before coming to Warwick. Since then the major influences on my thinking have been Alisdair Macintyre, Nicholas Smith, Richard Sennett, Zygmunt Bauman, Douglas Porpora, Robert Bellah, Andrew Sayer and Margaret Archer.  

Academic Interests

My main academic interests are:

  • Human Agency
  • Moral Identity 
  • Social Theory
  • Political Theory
  • Sociology of Sexuality
  • Critical Realism
  • Methodology

Professional Memberships

  • I am a member of the British Sociological Association. 
  • I am a member of the BSA's postgraduate forum.
  • I am a member of the International Association for Critical Realism.

    Lowry