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I have been thinking and writing about sociology, and in particular social and sociological theory, for three decades, and 'in spite of all', as Max Weber used to say, it remains the discipline to which I am most committed. Having said that, my intellectual interests range across anthropology, philosophy, political theory, and literature. That does not amount to a full-blooded commitment to interdisciplinarity, as disciplines do exist for a reason and reflect the various commitments of those who practice them. But an openness to these different efforts to grasp the reality in which we live seems to me an essential requirement of anyone working in the human sciences. Thinkers about social and political reality have their own styles of thinking as well as the substantive thing they want to say, and use their tools sometimes skilfully and sometimes less so. This is something that has always fascinated me, and which I have tried to convey both in my Investigating Sociological Theory, and in my survey of the ways in which 'secularization' is thought about in sociology, philosophy, theology and history.


Phone: 0044 2476 523114

Research interests:

sociological theory, history of sociology, politics of commemoration, the politics and culture of Europe, modern European thought.


Secularization (2019). London: Routledge.

Investigating Sociological Theory (2010). London: Sage.

Modernity and Politics in the Work of Max Weber (1992). London: Routledge.

The Sociology of Wilhelm Baldamus: paradox and inference (2010). London: Ashgate, edited with Mark Erickson

The Shape of the New Europe (2006). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, edited with Ralf Rogowski.

Social Theory after the Holocaust (2000). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, edited with Robert Fine.

Recent Articles:

(2020) ‘Infinite Progress and the Burdens of Biography’, in A. Bielik-Robson and D. Whistler (eds.) Interrogating Modernity: Debates with Hans Blumenberg. London: Palgrave, pp.175-192.

(2020) ‘The Wrong End of the Stick: Nabokov and self-deception’, Odradek: Studies in Philosophy of Literature, Aesthetics and New Media Theories 6(2): 9-36.

(2019) ‘Social Types and Sociological Analysis’, History of the Human Sciences 32(3): 3-23.

(2018) ‘Shame and Plagiarism’, in J. Walsh and B. Shiels (eds.) Shame and Modern Writing. London: Routledge, pp.207-220.

(2015) ‘Travels without a Donkey: the adventures of Bruno Latour’, History of the Human Sciences 28(1): 118-38.

Recent Commentaries:

(2020) ‘The break up of the UK is coming, but will it be violent or peaceful?’,, October.

(2020) ‘Coming to terms with our past’,, June.

(2019) ‘November 9th is remembrance Saturday’, LSE Blogs, November.

(2019) ‘Two Cheers for Hypocrisy’, LSE Blogs, September

 Current Research Projects:

1. The Political Theory of the Expanded Centre

2. Sociology and the Claims of Literature


Undergraduate teaching: Modern Social Theory, Political Sociology, History of Sociological Thought

Postgraduate teaching: Sociology: State of the Art, Politics and Social Theory