About the University of Leicester

Dennis Smith

We have learned with sadness of the recent death of Professor Dennis Smith, who taught Sociology at Leicester in the 1970s. Professor Smith passed away in February 2024.

Born in Nottingham in 1945, Dennis read Modern History at Cambridge, followed by an MSc in Sociology at the LSE. He came to Leicester to study for his PhD, and stayed here as a lecturer before taking posts at Aston University and then Loughborough University, where he remained until his retirement. His books include Capitalist Democracy on Trial: The Transatlantic Debate from Tocqueville to the Present (1990), Norbert Elias and Modern Social Theory (2001), Globalization. The Hidden Agenda (2006) and Civilized Rebels: An Inside Story of the West's Retreat from Global Power (2018). He was editor of Current Sociology from 2002 to 2010 and also served as Vice-President of the European Sociological Association.

We have a long and proud history of Sociology at the University of Leicester, and Professor Dennis Smith was one of the early pioneers of this work. Completing his PhD at Leicester, he not only inspired students to engage with critical Sociological issues, but also carried out ground-breaking research. His innovative PhD work brought to light important intersections between class, education, unions and politics across Birmingham and Sheffield, addressing critical gaps in our understanding of these complex issues. 

John Goodwin writes:

Dennis worked and studied Leicester at a time when the atmosphere of the Department was imbued by the likes of Norbert Elias, Ilya Neustadt, Olive Banks, Joe Banks and Eric Dunning. Leicester was a 'sociological powerhouse' where students and researchers were actively encouraged to research the 'everyday' issues that interested them. In later years, as a Loughborough graduate, I always felt an affinity with Dennis when we met and spoke at various conferences. I remember him to be supportive and cheerful, and he was always engaged when I was explaining my current work and writing. Sadly, as Sociology at Leicester approaches its 75th anniversary, with Dennis's passing, we lose another direct connection to our intellectual past.

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