Dr Nicholas Thoburn - Personal details
I joined Manchester Sociology in 2003, having taught in Sociology and Cultural Studies departments in London and studied at the University of Sheffield, the University of York, and Goldsmiths University of London, from where I gained my PhD. My research is broadly located in Political Sociology and the Sociology of Culture and Media, and is focused on: the sociology of the book, writing, and publishing; social movements; and social and political theory, especially Deleuze, Foucault, and Marx. I am an affiliated member of CRESC and an editorial board member of the culture and politics journal New Formations.
My research has been published in leading journals, including Social Text, Economy and Society, Theory, Culture and Society, New Media and Society, and Cultural Critique. My first monograph, Deleuze, Marx and Politics (Routledge 2003, translated into Korean and Turkish) was the first extended study of Deleuze’s relation to Marx, taking off from Deleuze’s unrealized plan to write a book called the Grandeur of Marx. Combining Deleuze and Guattari’s research on minority formations with Marx’s critique of political economy, the book proposes an original concept of ‘minor politics’—a politics based not on collective identity but on the social experience of being riven with competing imperatives and constraints—and develops this in the analysis of the organizational and expressive aspects of social movements concerned with the refusal of work. Social movements have continued to be a central plank of my research, in four directions: the changing nature of political organisation; the intersection of class and minority formations; political violence and militant subjectivities; and the communicative and expressive aspects of political activity.
My current research develops this interest in political communication in a series of articles, a journal special issue, and a monograph project on the material culture of political writing and publishing. Rather than approaching texts as disembodied mental constructs, I place emphasis on the form and materiality of print and digital publishing, from the literal materiality of bindings, papers, and interfaces, to the material social and economic conditions of production and consumption. Alongside this research I continue to publish on contemporary social and political theory, most recently a critique of the ‘Idea of communism’ in Badiou, Zizek, and others. I have also published three edited volumes, most notably a large collection with colleagues at CRESC on the theme of ‘objects and materials’.
These research interests feed into my teaching, which currently includes units on work and economy, social theories of power and modernity, and the sociology of conflict.