Professor Eric Dunning



A graduate of the Universities of London and Leicester, Professor Eric Dunning taught extensively in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and continental Europe.  Along with Norbert Elias, he was the pioneer of the sociological study of sport and leisure, having worked in the field since 1959.  He also looked at the problems of violence and civilization, especially sports-related violence.

He was the author of a number of books and articles on sport and the figurational sociology of Norbert Elias.  After retirement, Eric became an Emeritus Professor of the University of Leicester as well as a Visiting Professor at the Chester Centre for Research into Sport and Society.  Eric was also a member of the editorial board of the Jornal de Ciências do Exercicio e Esporte, Paraná Federal University, Brazil.

Eric edited and co-authored numerous books in the sociology of sport.  In 1999 he published his first sole-authored book, Sport Matters.  In October 2000, he co-edited the comprehensive Handbook of Sports Studies with Jay Coakley.  His book about Norbert Elias, Norbert Elias and Modern Sociology is based partly on Eric’s personal experience working with Elias for more than three decades.  The book, Norbert Elias and Modern Sociology was co-authored with Jason Hughes and was published in 2012.

Below is Professor Stephen Mennell’s tribute to Eric:

We are very sad to announce that Eric Dunning, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leicester, died early in the morning of Sunday 10 February 2019.

Eric was one of the best known – and most loved – of the sociologists who followed in the footsteps of Norbert Elias. As a first-year undergraduate at Leicester in 1955, Eric attended Elias’s introductory lectures in sociology, and was so entranced that he switched from his intended subject of economics to become a sociologist. Elias supervised his MA thesis, and together they went on to be effectively the founders of the sociology of sport. Until then, hardly any attention had been paid to sport by sociologists, but it is now an internationally thriving field. Eric was of course more broadly one of the most influential advocates of Elias’s ideas, in what came to be known as ‘figurational’ or ‘process sociology’.

We will remember Eric as a larger than life character and good companion. It is too early to write a full appreciation – that will appear in the next issue of the Figurations newsletter – but we felt that friends across the world would want to hear the sad news as soon as possible.

Stephen Mennell

Waddington wrote his Obituary to Eric on the Guardian’s website which provides a fitting summary of Eric’s life and achievements, click here to read it.

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