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Prof Alexander Law

Role: Professor of Sociology

Division: Division of Sociology

School/Department: School of Social & Health Sciences

Telephone Number: +44 (0)1382 308715



Alex Law is Professor of Sociology at Abertay University. He has published widely in a number of areas, including sociological theory, Scottish state and society, national identity, and cultural sociology.

He obtained a First Class Honours degree in Social Sciences, Art History and History at the Open University, where he later taught for a number of years. He went on to complete both a MSc in Policy Studies and a PhD in Sociology at Edinburgh University.

He is willing to supervise students with an interest in class, nation, and media representations. Particularly welcome are students excited by sociological theory especially, but not confined to, Marxism, Critical Theory, Bourdieu and Elias. Informal approaches can be made directly to:



Contemporary Social Theory

Classical Social Theory

Sociology of Scotland

Science and Society

Symbolic Power, Media and Cultural Forms

Images of the City


I am concerned to develop sociological theory and research to illuminate the hidden processes underlying social relations. This involves placing current issues in long-term processes of social change and state formation. Drawing upon relational sociology, principally inspired by Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias, recent work examines populist and media representations of, amongst other things, sectarianism and the independence referendum in Scotland, and the power dynamics between competitive nationalism and competitive sport in international football competitions.

Current work examines the tensions between science, philosophy and common sense in a book on social theory and crisis, Social Theory for Today (Sage, 2015), a co-edited book on neglected episodes in the history of sociology, Sociological Amnesia (Ashgate, 2015), and in work on the early sociology of Patrick Geddes.

I am willing to supervise students in any area of relational sociology and social theory. The School offers the following research degrees: one-year MSc by Research, two-year MPhil or three-year PhD.  For more information please email




See Abertay Research Collection

Selected publications

(2017) ‘The narcissism of national solipsism: Civic nationalism and sub-state formation processes in Scotland’, Human Figurations: Long-Term Perspectives on the Human Condition, 6.2.

(2017) ‘Comparative-historical sociology as antidote to ‘crackpot realism’’, Human Figurations: Long-Term Perspectives on the Human Condition, 6.2 (with Stephen Mennell)

(2017) ‘Post-truth and fake news’, Media Education Journal, 61.

(2017) ‘Scottish Exceptionalism? Normative Codes of Scottish Nationalism in the British and EU Crises’, Cambio. Rivista sulle trasformazioni sociali, VII, 13: 51-66.

(2017) Key Concepts in Classical Social Theory, Farsi trans. Farhang Ershad, Tehran: Agah Publishers.

(2016-17) ‘Propaganda’, Media Education Journal, 60: 55-7.

(2016) ‘Sectarianism, criminalisation and the civilising process in Scotland’, in H. Croall, G. Mooney and M. Munro, eds., Crime, Justice and Society in Scotland, London: Routledge.

(2016)  'Equality', in R.A. Segal and K. von Stuckrad, eds,. Vocabulary for the Study of Religion, Leiden: Brill.

(2015) Social Theory for Today: Making Sense of Social Worlds, Los Angeles and London: Sage, pp.vii+333.

(2015) Sociological Amnesia: Cross-Currents in Disciplinary History, London: Ashgate. Edited with E.R. Lybeck.

(2014/15) ‘Mediating the Scottish Independence Debate’, Media Education Journal, 56: 3-8.

(2014) ‘Playing with tension: National charisma and disgrace at Euro2012’, Soccer & Society, 15.2: 203-221.

(2013) ‘The De-Civilizing Process and Urban Working Class Youth in Scotland’, Social Justice, 38.4: 106-126 With G. Mooney.

(2012) ‘Scholastic ambivalence and Patrick Geddes: A sociology of failed sociology’, Journal of Scottish Thought, 5: 41-72.

(2012) ‘Devolution in a ‘Stateless Nation’: Nation-Building and Social Policy in Scotland’, Social Policy and Administration, 46.2. With G. Mooney.

(2012) ‘Competitive Nationalism: State, Class and the Forms of Capital in Devolved Scotland’, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 30: 62-77. With G. Mooney.

(2012) ‘Between Autonomy and Dependency: State and Nation in Devolved Scotland’, in G. Mooney and G. Scott, eds. ‘Social Justice and Social Welfare in Contemporary Scotland’, Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 25-41.

(2012) ‘Common sense (in Social Science)’, International Encyclopaedia of Philosophy and Social Science, Los Angeles and London: Sage.

(2012) ‘Bitter nostalgia: Social redundancy in Irvine Welsh’s ‘Kingdom of Fife’’, in I.W. Macdonald (ed.) Digging the Seam: Cultural Reflections on the Consequences of the 1984/5 Miners' Strike, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars. With E. Rocks.

(2011) Key Concepts in Classical Social Theory, Los Angeles and London: Sage.

(2010) Urban ‘disorders’, ‘problem places’ and criminal justice in Scotland', in H. Croall, G. Mooney and M. Munro, eds., Criminal Justice in Scotland, Abingdon, Oxon: Willen, pp. 43-64. With G. Mooney and G. Helms.