Professor Thomas Osborne

Professor Thomas Osborne

Professor Thomas Osborne
Professor of Social and Cultural Theory

1.01, 11 Priory Road,
11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol
(See a map)

Telephone Number (0117) 331 7587

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Personal profile

Lecturer, Department of Human Sciences, Brunel University, 1991-4.

Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Bristol 1994-2000; Reader in Social Theory 2000-2005; Professor of Social and Cultural Theory 2005 –

Editorial Board, Economy and Society


My work mixes historical studies with social and cultural theory and the sociology of knowledge. I was associated early on in my career - about twenty years ago - with the beginnings of governmentality studies in the UK, especially in relation to the history of public health, bio-politics and medical regulation.Subsequently I have developed my interests in the direction of the history of social thought, analytical sociology, and the analysis of literature and aesthetics.


I teach core social theory in the first year; theories of power at 3rd year level; and cultural theory on the MSc programme.

Key publications

  1. Osborne, T 1998, ‘Aspects of enlightenment: Social theory and the ethics of truth’. UCL Press
  2. Osborne, T 2003, ‘'Against Creativity'’. Economy and Society, vol 32(4)., pp. 507 - 525
  3. Osborne, T 2003, ‘What is a Problem?’. History of the Human Sciences, vol 16 (4)., pp. 1 - 17
  4. Osborne, T 2004, ‘On mediators: intellectuals and the ideas trade in the knowledge society’. Economy and Society, vol 33 (4)., pp. 430 - 447
  5. Osborne, T & N., R 2008, ‘Populating Sociology: Carr-Saunders and the problem of population’. Sociological Review, vol 56., pp. 552 - 578
  6. Osborne, T 2008, ‘The Structure of Modern Cultural Theory’. Manchester University Press

Latest publications

  1. Osborne, TSD 2013, ‘Authority, Convention and Political Community’. Journal of Political Power, vol 6., pp. 127-131
  2. Osborne, T 2011, ‘Rationality, Choice and Modernism: Notes on Jon Elster’s theory of creativity’. Rationality and Society, vol 23., pp. 175 - 197
  3. Osborne, T 2011, ‘Was There a Liberal Historicism?’. in: S Gunn, J Vernon (eds) The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain. University of California Press, pp. 91 - 101
  4. Osborne, T 2011, ‘Conrad's Horror: Heart of Darkness and the imaginary of power’. in: T Crook, R Gill, B Taithe (eds) Evil, Barbarism and Empire. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 229 - 245

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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