10 November 2011


The sociologist Frank Parkin, who has died at the age of 80, was my political sociology tutor at Oxford more than 30 years ago. I saw him for a couple of hours once a week for eight weeks in his room at Magdalen College and never got to know him socially, but he played a bigger role in shaping the way I think than any other teacher. He was a brilliant tutor: enthusiastic, sharp and above all extraordinarily rude about other sociologists. His Marxism and Class Theory: A Bourgeois Critique (1981) is the funniest book of sociological theory I have ever read, a no-holds-barred polemic that opened a generation of students' eyes to the stupidities of academic Marxism. He followed it with two novels, Krippendorf's Tribe and The Mind and Body Shop, that are brilliant satires on academic life. Krishnan Kumar has an obituary in the Guardian here.

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