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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, culture and society, focussing particularly on Scotland, the UK and Europe. Most recent work situates the sociology of art within long-term democratisation processes. 

Currently, I am external examiner for MA Economy and Society, MA Society and Politics, MA Culture, Media and Society at the Graduate School, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IFIS PAN), Warsaw, Poland. 

Research interests

I am concerned to develop sociological research that illuminates long-term processes underlying social relations, power tensions and state formation. This dates back to postgraduate research that I undertook at the University of Edinburgh on privatisation and public policy (MSc, 1993) and industrial sociology and political economy (PhD, 1997). Since then I have worked, inter alia, on problems of media, nationalism, social policy, and social theory. As well as engaging with public issues and emerging problems in the field, my research interests have also been informed by the changing requirements of teaching.

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.

At present I am working on the sociology of art and the civilising process, the first fruits of which will appear in The Anthem Companion to Norbert Elias (2023), which I am co-editing with Stephen Mennell. A longer project involves writing a book on the historical sociology of the civilisjng process, national habitus and state formation in Scotland. Other work examines the often misconceived relationship between the civiising process and the emancipation process. A previous book critically examined social theory in the context of recurring crises (Social Theory for Today, Sage, 2015) while a co-edited book looked at neglected episodes in the history of sociology (Sociological Amnesia, Ashgate, 2015).

I am willing to supervise students in any area of 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

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Sociology, PhD, Restructuring military industry in Scotland, University of Edinburgh

… → 1997

Social Sciences (Public Policy), MSc, Privatisation and Resistance in the Royal Dockyards, University of Edinburgh

… → 1993

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

… → 1992


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