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Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University

John Urry, longstanding Lancaster academic of 44 years and an influential scholar who shaped several fields of sociology, died suddenly, 18th March 2016.

His main research in recent years was in advocating and developing a new paradigm for the social sciences, the new mobilities paradigm. This is explored in many theoretical and empirical publications including:

Sociology Beyond Societies (2000)
Automobilities (2004/5; co-edited with Mike Featherstone, Nigel Thrift)
Mobile Technologies of the City (2006; co-edited with Mimi Sheller)
Mobilities, Networks, Geographies (2006; with Jonas Larsen, Kay Axhausen)
Mobilities (2007)
Aeromobilities (2009; co-edited with Saulo Cwerner and Sven Kesselring)
After the Car (2009; with Kingsley Dennis)
Mobile Methods (2010 edited with Monika Buscher and Katian Witchger)
Mobile Lives (2010 with Anthony Elliott)

He was one of the founding editors of the journal Mobilities (with Kevin Hannam, Sunderland, UK, and Mimi Sheller (Drexel, US). This journal founded in 2006 now has an ISI ranking. John Urry also edits the International Library of Sociology (Routledge), the world's oldest sociology series and which has published significant contributions to the mobilities turn.

Relatedly he also sought to explore some implications of complexity theory for the social sciences. This is developed in Global Complexity (2003), and Complexity, a special double issue of Theory, Culture & Society (2005).

Previous research involved urban and regional change mainly associated with the Lancaster Regionalism Group. Collaborative research resulted in Localities, Class and Gender (1985) and Restructuring. Place, Class and Gender (1990) Two particular themes were pursued: the relationship between society and space (as in the Social Relations and Spatial Structures, co-edited with Derek Gregory, 1985); and the possibilities of developing local economic policies (as in Place, Policy and Politics, 1990).

Other previous research has been in the more general dimensions of economic and social change in western capitalist societies. This resulted in three jointly written books, Capital, Labour and the Middle Classes (1983, with Nick Abercrombie); The End of Organized Capitalism (1987); and Economies of Signs and Space (1994; latter two with Scott Lash).

He also focused upon one particular set of industries of significance in contemporary western societies, namely consumer services and especially tourist-related services, see The Tourist Gaze (1990, 2002, 2011 with J. Larsen), Consuming Places (1995), Touring Cultures (1997, edited with Chris Rojek),Tourism Mobilities (2004, edited with Mimi Sheller), and Performing Tourist Places (2004, with J-O Baerenholdt, M Haldrup, J Larsen).

This concern was extended to issues of travel and the enivornment; see Contested Natures (1998), Bodies of Nature (2001) (both with Phil Macnaghten), Theory, Culture & Society (March/May 2010, Vol. 27, No.2-3 Special issue on Changing Climates, co-edited with Bron Szerszynski), and Climate Change and Society (2011).


  • –present
    Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University


  • 1972 
    Christ's College, Cambridge, PhD/Sociology