Professor Chris Shilling

Professor of Sociology
Professor Chris Shilling


Chris Shilling is Professor of Sociology at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and a Guest Researcher in the Department of Education, University of Uppsala.

He teaches, researches and publishes across the areas of sociological theory, ‘body studies’, religion, and social character. His recent books include Uncovering Social Life. Critical Perspectives from Sociology (2018, with P.A. Mellor), The Body. A Very Short Introduction (2016), Sociology of the Sacred (2014, with P.A. Mellor), The Body and Social Theory (3rd edition, 2012), and Changing Bodies: Habit, Crisis & Creativity (2008). Chris completed his BA, PGCE and MA at the University of Sussex, and his PhD at the Open University. 

Research interests

Professor Shilling’s research has, since the late 1980s, revolved around a concern to embody sociology and social/cultural theory, and to understand the social and cultural implications of what it is to be an embodied being. His work contributed to the establishment of an interdisciplinary field of ‘body studies’, which informs debates on corporality that have become increasingly prominent across the social sciences and humanities. There are three main strands to his writing.

  1. It is grounded in a critique of Cartesian influenced, 'disembodied' conceptions of sociology, which marginalise the corporeal conditions of social action and the bodily consequences of social structures, and an excavation of those traditions that can help us re-embody our conceptions of humanity and society
  2. It is concerned with developing theoretical approaches which enable us to understand more adequately the significance of embodiment to the world in which we live through the interrogation of a wide range of social, cultural, technological and religious issues
  3. Relatedly, his writings on ‘body pedagogics’ explore how cultures survive and change over time by analysing the relationship between the institutional means through which they shape embodied subjects, the experiences of those subject to them, and the habitual and other outcomes of these processes. 



  • Cultures of Embodiment SO676
  • Sociology of Religion SO736


  • Foundations of Sociology SO867


Professor Shilling has supervised PhD students in a variety of subjects, including the Mind-body problem, Sport and civilising processes, Religion, Intoxication, ‘Deviant’ bodies and private spaces, Body building, Tattooing, Gender and organisation, and News Media and the Northern Ireland Peace Process. 


Professor Shilling is editor of Sociology of Education Abstracts, and serves on the editorial boards of Body & Society / Cultura y Conciencia. Revista de Antropología / and Sport, Ethics & Philosophy. He is also a member of the International Advisory Board of Horizons in Humanities and Social Sciences.      

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