Alex Law

Professor of Sociology

  • 299 Citations
  • 10 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Personal profile

My research is informed by relational and historical approaches to sociology. This work involves long-term perspectives in sociological theory and problems of nation, state and society, focussing particularly on Scotland, the UK and Europe.

I hold a First Class Honours degree in Social Sciences, Art History and History from the Open University - where I later taught - and a MSc in Policy Studies and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh.

I’m willing to supervise students excited by sociological theory, particularly the relational sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias as it may apply to any substantive issue, including nationalism, violence, established and outsider group relations, media, and the state. To discuss this you can contact me at


Contemporary Social Theory

Classical Social Theory

Sociology of Scotland

Science and Society

Symbolic Power, Media and Cultural Forms

Images of the City

Research interests

I am concerned to develop sociological theory and research to illuminate long-term processes underlying social relations, power tensions and state formation.

Drawing upon relational sociology, principally inspired by Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias, recent work examines, amongst other things, sectarianism, the independence referendum in Scotland, and the power dynamics between competitive nationalism and competitive sport in international football competitions.

Current work examines the sociology of unintended consequences since the Scottish Enlightenment. A recent book critically examines social theory in the context of recurring crises, (Social Theory for Today, Sage, 2015) while a co-edited book looks at neglected episodes in the history of sociology, (Sociological Amnesia, Ashgate, 2015).

I am willing to supervise students in any area of relational sociology and social theory. The School offers the following research degrees: one-year MSc by Research, two-year MPhil or three-year PhD.  For more information please email

Education/Academic qualification

Sociology, PhD, University of Edinburgh

… → 1997

Social Sciences (Public Policy), MSc, University of Edinburgh

… → 1993

Social Sciences and Humanities, BA (Hons) First Class, The Open University

… → 1992

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Research Output

Fear images and the eclipse of utopia

Law, A., 6 Jan 2020, In : Media Education Journal. 66, p. 3-7 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
99 Downloads (Pure)

Avant-garde and leisure: the art critic as intermediary ‘specialist in verbalisation’

Law, A., 11 Jul 2019, p. 33. 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Open Access
  • Fear images and the eclipse of utopia

    Law, A., 23 Nov 2019.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

  • Relational approaches to social theory and the crisis of education

    Law, A., 9 Jul 2019.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

    Open Access
  • 27 Downloads (Pure)

    The trouble with sectarianism

    Law, A., 22 Feb 2018, No problem here: understanding racism in Scotland. Davidson, N., Liinpaa, M., McBride, M. & Virdee, S. (eds.). Edinburgh: Luath Press, p. 90-112 22 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access
  • 114 Downloads (Pure)