Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Dr Richard Kilminster

Honorary Research Fellow in Sociology

Although formally ‘retired’ and no longer teaching, I continue to write and publish.  I also remain connected with the sociological community at Leeds and am available to students and researchers for consultation and discussion about their work.  My intellectual development over the years has taken me into fundamental issues in sociological theorising and to the borderlines with philosophy, psychoanalysis and evolutionary biology, directions which continue to inspire my reflections. I also have an abiding interest in the teaching of sociology and in 2013 contributed a chapter on the origins of sociology entitled ‘Modernizing’ to an edited introductory textbook (Being Sociological listed below). I have been associated with the Figurational Research Network since the 1970s.

Since 2005 I have been closely involved, as Chair of the Editorial Advisory Group, in the production of the English edition of the Collected Works of Norbert Elias in 18 volumes for publication by University College Dublin Press in conjunction with the Norbert Elias Foundation, Amsterdam. I am sole editor of two of the volumes (EarlyWritings 2006 and The Symbol Theory 2011), co-editor of the three volumes of Essays (2008-09) and the revised edition of Elias’s magnum opus, Über den Prozess der Zivilisation, retitled as On the Process of Civilisation (2012) as well as the Interviews and Autobiographical Reflections (2013). The Collected Works were completed early in 2014, an occasion celebrated with an international conference at the University of Leicester on 20—22 June 2014 on the theme ‘From the Past to the Present and towards Possible Futures’, to which I presented a paper on the strengths and weaknesses of Karl Marx as a sociological pioneer.

Research Interests

The history of sociology; the Enlightenment; the sociology of philosophy; the sociology of knowledge; and the life and work of Norbert Elias, whose perspective offers in my view a powerful and testable synthesis of perspectives. I am currently researching further the 1840s as a turning point in the history of sociology; Alexis de Tocqueville as a founding writer of sociology;  reevaluating  the scientific stature of Karl Marx; ‘ostentatious’ v ‘unostentatious’ (Elias) contributions towards human knowledge; and the relationship between  biography and the institutionalization of sociology.

Key Publications

Selected Recent Publications (A complete list appears on my website.)


Kilminster, R. (2007) Norbert Elias: Post-philosophical Sociology, London, Routledge, paperback 2014.

Kilminster, R. (1979) Praxis and Method: A Sociological Dialogue with Lukács, Gramsci and the Early Frankfurt School, London, Routledge [reissued 2014 with a new Foreword by the author]

Kilminster, R. (editor) The Symbol Theory, Collected Works of Norbert Elias, Volume 13, Dublin, University College Dublin Press, 2011

Kilminster, R. (1998) The Sociological Revolution: From the Enlightenment to the Global Age, Routledge, reprinted 2000, paperback 2002.

Kilminster, R. (with Ian Varcoe) (eds) Culture, Modernity and Revolution: Essays in Honour of Zygmunt Bauman, London, Routledge, 1996.

Recent articles:

Kilminster, R, 'How has a post-philosophical sociology become possible? A response to Philip Walsh', Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Vol.45(3) June, 2015 (online April).

Kilminster, R. ‘The pitfalls of bombast: a response to Stephen Dunne’s ‘Figurational sociology and the rhetoric of post-philosophy’, History of the Human Sciences, 27(4) December, 2014:1—4.

Kilminster, R. ‘The dawn of detachment: Norbert Elias and sociology’s two tracks’, History of the Human Sciences, 27 (3) June, 2014:1--20.

Kilminster, R. ‘The man in the library: extended review of Peter Burke, A Social History of Knowledge, Volume II, From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia’, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2012, pp359, Human Figurations, Vol. 3, no. 2, June, 2014.8

Kilminster, R, ‘The debate about utopias from a sociological perspective’, Human Figurations, Vol. 3, no. 2, June, 2014.7 [Originally in German: ‘Zur Utopiediskussion aus soziologischer Sicht’, trans. Adelheid Baker and Marion Kämper, in (Hrsg.) Wilhelm Voßkamp, Utopieforschung: Interdisziplinäre Studien zur neuzeitlichen Utopia, Band 1, pp 64-96, Stuttgart, J.B. Metzler Verlag, 1982.]

‘Modernizing’, in (eds) Steve Matthewman, Catherine Lane West-Newman & Bruce Curtis, Being Sociological, second edition, Basingstoke, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013.

Kilminster, R. ‘Norbert Elias and Karl Mannheim: Contrasting Perspectives on the Sociology of Knowledge’, in (eds) François Dépeltau and Tatiana Savoia Landini, Norbert Elias and Social Theory, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013

Kilminster, R, ‘Critique and overcritique in sociology’, Human Figurations, Vol 2, No.2, July, 2013.

Kilminster, R. (with Stephen Mennell, Eric Dunning and Johan Goudsblom) ‘Editors’ Note’ to Collected Works of Norbert Elias, Volume 3, On the Process of Civilisation: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations (revised one-volume edition) Dublin, University College Dublin Press, 2012.

Kilminster, R., Extended review of The Sociology of Wilhelm Baldamus: Paradox and Inference, (eds) Mark Erickson and Charles Turner, Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Company, 2010, Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, July 2011, vol. 40, 4: pp. 446-447.

Kilminster, R. (2011) ‘Norbert Elias’s Post-Philosophical Sociology: From “Critique” to Relative Detachment’, in Stephen Mennell and Norman Gabriel (eds) Norbert Elias and Figurational Sociology, Sociological Review Monograph Series, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.

Kilminster, R. (2011) Editor’s Note’ to (ed) Richard Kilminster, Collected Works of Norbert Elias, Volume 13, The Symbol Theory, revised English edition, Dublin, University College Dublin Press.

Kilminster, R. (with Mennell, S.) 'Norbert Elias' [revised version] in (ed) George Ritzer, The Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, (second edition, 2010).

 [Also four out-of-print or difficult to obtain articles and essays of mine from 1988—94 are available under Some Classic Essays on The Norbert Elias Foundation website.]

© Copyright Leeds 2016