Professor Dennis Smith

BA (Cambridge), MA (Cambridge), MSc (London, LSE), PhD (Leicester)

  • Emeritus Professor of Sociology

Born in Nottingham, son of Irish and Welsh parents, I was educated at Bilborough Grammar School. After a stint on the shop floor of the local Players factory, I went to Cambridge (Christ's College) on an Open Scholarship and read Modern History, and London School of Economics where I took an MSc in Sociology (‘with distinction’).

Since then, I have had posts in Leicester University (where I obtained my doctorate), at Aston University and at Loughborough University. I have held visiting appointments at Shandong University (China), Harvard University (USA), University of KwaZuluNatal (South Africa), University of Silesia (Poland), Gothenburg University (Sweden), University of Zaragoza (Spain), the Institute of Sociology at Graz University (Austria) and the National Research University/Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

I have given guest lectures at (for example) Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Rhodes University (South Africa), American University of Beirut University (Lebanon), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (Sweden), and National Research University/Higher School of Economics, Moscow.

My research has taken me to Turkey, Cyprus, Mexico, Singapore, India, South Korea, and many parts of Europe. One-time Vice-President of European Sociological Association, and editor of Current Sociology 2002-10.

I am a historical sociologist interested in what makes societies work (or not), what makes human beings tick, and how we go about providing satisfactory or satisfying accounts of our worlds and ourselves.

I am researching globalization and world-formation processes, the shaping of cities, the workings of capitalism and democracy, the development of Europe as a new kind of polity, current transformations of ‘the West’, and the way people experience and cope with displacement and humiliation. More specifically, how will the world cope with the relative decline in America’s global influence? How will global governance be managed as American power wanes?? If capitalism, with all its instabilities, has triumphed for the foreseeable future, what kind of capitalist political order will become dominant? Whose interests will it serve, and how?? What are the future global prospects for the version of citizenship supported by the European Union with its emphasis upon strong social rights? And, as the world’s population becomes increasingly urbanized how will this newly urbanized population be incorporated within national and global socio-political orders? Whose political lead will be followed by the world’s urban dwellers, especially the world poor and the anxious and aspiring ranks of those who are neither poor nor rich?

Some occasional lectures, eg on historical sociology.

  • Civilized Rebels. An Inside Story of the West's Retreat from Global Power (Routledge 2018)
  • Globalization. The Hidden Agenda (Polity 2006)
  • Norbert Elias and Modern Social Theory (Sage 2001)
  • Zygmunt Bauman. Prophet of Postmodernity (Polity 1999)
  • Capitalist Democracy on Trial. The Transatlantic Debate from Tocqueville to the Present(Routledge 1990)
  • The Chicago School. A Liberal Critique of Capitalism (Macmillan 1988)
  • Barrington Moore. Violence, Morality and Political Change (Routledge 1983)
  • Conflict and Compromise, Class Formation in English Society 1830-1914. A Comparative Study of Birmingham and Sheffield (Routledge 1982)