I’m a lecturer a historian whose research explores the history of the social sciences, in particular IMG_0222debates about the relationship between biological and social ideas. My doctoral thesis focused on how and why L. T. Hobhouse – a passionate defender of sociology’s independence from biology – was selected as Britain’s first professor of sociology in 1907. Palgrave Macmillan have now published a version of that research as a book, British Sociology’s Lost Biological Roots: A History of Futures Past. You should definitely buy the book (or at least make sure the library you use has got a copy) and look appreciatively at the cover, which was designed by my friend, James Griffin. I’m a big fan of the cover. James assures me it is an artistic representation of the book’s main themes but I’m pretty in to the fact it looks like a 1970s sociology textbook.

Currently, I’m developing my research in two directions. Firstly, I’m looking at developments in a range of different social sciences in Britain up to the 1960s. Secondly, I’m planning to get into the ways that the engagement between biological and social science has left under appreciated legacies for science and politics in Britain, in particular the idea of “social mobility”. Eugenics is a big focus here and I’m trying to want to explore how eugenics shaped social science methods and contributed significantly to the emerging discourse about the welfare state. My ongoing work on the economist and social reformer William Beveridge’s “Natural Bases of Social Science” programme at the LSE during the 1920s and 30s has been the main gateway into these issues for me. I have an article on that subject appearing, with comment from Steve Fuller and Stephen T. Casper, in a future issue of Philosophy of the Social Sciences. For a list of all my publications see my department webpage.


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