Sociological Theorists: Niklas Luhmann

What to my mind Luhmann exposes, after the manner of Parsons’ structural functionalism and the American neofunctionalists who walked and still walk in his footsteps, is that key mechanisms at the level of social strata impact beneath-the-surface or behind-our-backs. As absent presences, they can escape reflexive interrogation. In his The Differentiation of Society he argued […]

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Paul Mason: A Postcapitalist Future?

While working on my book – Health Inequalities in a Fractured Society: a Critical Realist Account (Routledge, Forthcoming) – I found it helpful to refer to Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, published in 2015. He offers an account of how his analysis might be translated into a ‘project’ for a postcapitalist society, […]

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If I was Corbyn, I might say …

A speech I might give if I was in Jeremy Corbyn’s position … I want to take this opportunity to clarify what I and the Labour Party I lead stand for in what has become a tumultuous era for us all. First, I will spell out a set of pledges to which we are already […]

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Twitter, Blogs: 200th Blog. What!

As I approached retirement, my daughter Rebecca suggested I give thought to tweeting and blogging. I did, and they seemed infinitely better options than growing and entering shapely vegetables in the village show. My first blog, actually a year in advance of my leaving UCL, was on 30th October 2012. It was on what was […]

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Sociological Theorists: Max Weber

Max Weber was long called the ‘sociologist’s sociologist’, principally in acknowledgement not only of the wide-ranging reach of his scholarship and his general analyses of societal development and change, as well as of particular substantive issues, but of his work on the philosophy and methods of research. I once gave a talk in Munich directly […]

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Sociological Theorists: Karl Marx

If Marx would have baulked at the idea that he was a sociological theorist, his inclusion in my series cannot be gainsaid: he has been a catalyst for so much thinking about the nature of modern society. There are of course hundreds of summaries of his work, so what more might a single blog accomplish? […]

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A Sociological Autobiography: 67 – All Change! UCL Through 2006

2006 was a turning point for me. When I came to what was then the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in 1978, it was John Hinton’s Department of Psychiatry I entered. After Rachel Rosser’s premature and sad death, Stan Newman climbed a short greasy UCL pole and took over. For one reason or another, he subsequently […]

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A Sociological Autobiography: 66 – Terry Boswell, 1955-2006

A quartet of Emory University acedamics and friends were the pulse of what I have previously celebrated as Emory University’s summer programme on ‘comparative health care’. I was their London coordinator for 35 years, climbing my way from postgraduate to professorial facilitator. Dick Levinson kicked it all off and remains a close friend, as does […]

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A Sociological Autobiography: 65 – ‘Sport and Society’

Medical schools are strange institutions, replete with personnel and, more to the point, managers whose grasp of non-laboratory routes to knowledge and understanding is often restricted. I cited Professor Semple at the Middlesex HMS in a previous blog. He asked a sub-committee attended by Ted Honderich as well as myself: ‘this ethics, is it respectable […]

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A Sociological Autobiography: 64 – And Then My Dad Left

I suppose Ron’s death was not a surprise. He was 92 and more than ready to depart. But the expected can still, and perhaps normally does, strike as if unexpected for those left behind. He had lived with us for over two years, surviving our move from Epsom to Mickleham in 2004, albeit with the […]

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