John B. Thompson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. He received a BA from Keele in 1975 and a PhD from Cambridge in 1979. He was a Research Fellow at Jesus College from 1979 to 1984. He was appointed Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge in 1985, Reader in Sociology in 1994 and Professor of Sociology in 2001. He has held Visiting Professorships at universities in the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, China and South Africa. His main areas of research are contemporary social and political theory; sociology of the media and modern culture; the social organization of the media industries; the social and political impact of information and communication technologies; and the changing forms of political communication. Recent publications include Ideology and Modern Culture (1990), The Media and Modernity (1995), Political Scandal (2000), Books in the Digital Age (2005) and Merchants of Culture (2010). He was awarded the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and the Social Sciences in 2001 for his work on political scandal. He is currently working on the impact of the digital revolution on the book publishing industry.
1979-84: Research Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge
1985-94: Lecturer in Sociology, University of Cambridge; Fellow of Jesus College
1994-2001: Reader in Sociology
2001-Present : Professor of Sociology
Contemporary social and political theory
Sociology of the media and modern culture
The social organization of the media industries
The changing structure of the book publishing industry
The social and political impact of information and communication technologies
The changing forms of political communication
I welcome applications from prospective PhD students interested in working in any of the above areas.
From 1990 to 2000 my research was concerned with the nature of communication media and the social and political impact of changing forms of communication. This research resulted in two books, The Media and Modernity (1995) and Political Scandal (2000); the latter was awarded the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Science for 2001. Since 2000 I've been working on the changing structure of the book publishing industry in Britain and the United States. The first phase of this research was focused on academic and higher education publishing; the results were published in Books in the Digital Age (2005). The second phase of this research was concerned with the changing world of general interest trade publishing and the making of bestsellers and the results are published in Merchants of Culture (2010). The third phase, on which I am currently working, is focused on the impact of the digital revolution on the book publishing industry and the future of the book in a digital age.
Recent Research Grants
1999-2003: Awarded a grant by the ESRC for research on 'New Technologies and Global Change in the Book Publishing Industry'.
2005-2008: Awarded a grant by the ESRC for research on 'Concentration and Innovation in the Book Publishing Industry'.
2013-2016: Awarded a grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for research on 'The Digital Revolution in the Publishing Industry'.
Critical Hermeneutics: A Study in the Thought of Paul Ricoeur and Jürgen Habermas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1981). Translated into Japanese and Estonian.
Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences: Essays on Language, Action and Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
Habermas: Critical Debates (with David Held) (London: Macmillan; Boston: M.I.T. Press, 1982).
Studies in the Theory of Ideology (Cambridge: Polity; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).
The Political Forms of Modern Society: Bureaucracy, Democracy, Totalitarianism (Cambridge: Polity; Boston: M.I.T. Press, 1986).
Social Theory of Modern Societies (with David Held) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
Ideology and Modern Culture: Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass Communication (Cambridge: Polity; Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990). Translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.
Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge: Polity; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991).
The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media (Cambridge: Polity; Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995). Translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Greek, Turkish, Polish, Romanian, Czech, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.
Political Scandal: Power and Visibility in the Media Age (Cambridge: Polity, 2000). Winner of the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Science for 2001. Translated into Italian, Spanish, Danish, Portuguese, Greek and Polish.
Books in the Digital Age: The Transformation of Academic and Higher Education Publishing in Britain and the United States (Cambridge: Polity, 2005). Translated into Chinese.
Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Polity, 2010).
Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century, Second Edition (Cambridge: Polity; New York: Penguin, 2012). Translated into Portuguese and Chinese.
'The Theory of the Public Sphere', Theory, Culture and Society, 10 (August 1993) pp. 173-89.
'Social Theory and the Media', in David Crowley and David Mitchell (eds.), Communication Theory Today (Cambridge: Polity; Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 27-49.
'Tradition and Self in a Mediated World', in Paul Heelas, Scott Lash and Paul Morris (eds.), Detraditionalization: Critical Reflections on Authority and Identity (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1996), pp. 89-108.
'Scandal and Social Theory', in James Lull and Stephen Hinerman (eds.), Media Scandals: Morality and Desire in the Popular Culture Marketplace (Cambridge: Polity; New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 34-64.
'Die Globalisierung der Kommunikation', Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 45/6 (1997), pp. 881-94.
'The Nature and Consequences of Political Scandal', Comunicacion y Sociedad, 36 (July-December 1999), pp. 11-46.
'La transformation de la visibilité', Réseaux, 100 (2000), pp. 187-2100 (2000), pp. 187-213. Translated into Spanish and published in Estudios Publicos, 90 (2003), pp. 273-96.
'The Media and Politics', in Kate Nash and Alan Scott (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), pp. 171-82.
'Naturaleza y consecuencias de los escandalos politicos', in Enrique Peruzzotti and Catalina Smulovitz (eds.), Controlando la Politica: Ciudadanos y Medios en las nuevas democracias Latinoamericanas (Buenos Aires: Temas, 2002), pp. 103-135.
'Political Scandal: Power and Visibility in the Media Age', in Carlo Mongardini (ed.), La civilta della comunicazione globale (Rome: Bulzoni, 2002), pp. 213-229.
'Inside the Publishing World', Logos, 16/1 (2005), pp. 18-24.
'The New Visibility', Theory, Culture and Society, 22/6 (2005), pp. 31-51. Translated into French and published in Réseaux, 23/129-130 (2005), pp. 59-87. Translated into Spanish and published in Papers: Revista de Sociologia, 78 (2005), pp.11-29. Translated into Italian and published in Laura Bovone and Paolo Volonté (eds.), Comunicare le identita (Rome: Franco Angeli, 2006), pp. 183-205. Translated into Portuguese and published in Matrizes, 2 (2008), pp. 15-38.
'Survival Strategies for Academic Publishing', The Chronicle Review (17 June 2005), pp. B6-B9. Reprinted in Publishing Research Quarterly, 21/4 (2005), pp. 3-10.
'L'édition savante à la croisée des chemins', Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 164 (April 2006), pp. 93-8.
‘La sociologia nel 21° secolo’, Studi di Sociologia, XLIV/2 (April-June 2006), pp. 179-214.
‘US Academic Publishing in the Digital Age’, in David Paul Nord, Joan Shelley Rubin and Michael Schudson (eds.), A History of the Book in America, vol. 5: The Enduring Book: Print Culture in Postwar America (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), pp. 361-75.
'Shifting Boundaries of Public and Private Life', Theory, Culture and Society, 28/4 (2011), pp. 49-70. Translated into Spanish and published in Comunicacion y Sociedad 15 (2011), pp. 11-42; Spanish translation also published in Manuel Vicuna (ed.), Catedra Norbert Lechner (2008-2009) (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Diego Portales, 2011), pp. 105-31. Translated into Portuguese and published in Matrizes, 4/1 (July-Dec. 2010), pp 11-36.
'The Rise of the Literary Agent', Logos 21/3-4 (2010), pp. 94-108.
‘The Metamorphosis of a Crisis’, in Manuel Castells, João Caraça, and Gustavo Cardoso (eds.), Aftermath: the Cultures of the Economic Crisis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 59-81.