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


  • Kilminster R, Praxis and Method (RLE: Gramsci) A Sociological Dialogue with Lukacs, Gramsci and the Early Frankfurt School (Routledge, 2014)

  • Kilminster RCJ, Collected Works of Norbert Elias, Volume 13, The Symbol Theory, ed. by Kilminster R (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2011), 13

  • Kilminster RCJ, Norbert Elias: Post-Philosophical Sociology (Routledge, 2007), xiii,209p

  • Kilminster R, Varcoe I, Culture, Modernity and Revolution Essays in Honour of Zygmunt Bauman (Routledge, 2002)

  • Kilminster RCJ, The Sociological Revolution: From the Enlightenment to the global age (Routledge, 1998), 240p

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