Trinity College
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Email: wgr@wgrunciman.u-net.com



Garry Runciman has been a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge since 1971, researching in the field of comparative and historical sociology. He served as President of the British Academy, to which he was elected in 1975, from 2001 to 2005, and holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, London and York. He is also an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford. He chaired the British Government’s Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in England and Wales which was set up in 1991 and reported to Parliament in 1993, as a result of which a permanent independent Criminal Cases Review Commission was set up to investigate possible miscarriages of justice.

His first major publication was Relative Deprivation and Social Justice: a Study of Attitudes to Social Inequality in Twentieth-Century Britain (Routledge, 1966), reprinted by Gregg Revivals in 1993. Since then, he has published A Critique of Max Weber’s Philosophy of Social Science (Cambridge University Press, 1972), A Treatise on Social Theory (Cambridge University Press, Vol. 1 1983, Vol. 2 1989, Vol. 3 1997), The Social Animal (HarperCollins, 1998), The Theory of Cultural and Social Selection (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Great Books, Bad Arguments: Republic, Leviathan and The Communist Manifesto (Princeton University Press, 2010), and Very Different, But Much the Same: (Oxford University Press, The Evolution of English Society Since 1714, 2015).

In 2004, he edited and contributed to a British Academy occasional paper Hutton and Butler: Lifting the Lid on the Workings of Power which deals with the events surrounding Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq and the way in which it was presented to the British public.

His principal research interest is the application of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory to cultural and social selection.


“Empire as a Topic in Comparative Sociology” in Peter Fibiger Bang and C.A. Bayly (eds.) Tributary Empires in Global History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) pp.99-107.

Righteous Rebels: When, Where, and Why?” in Robert N. Bellah and Hans Joas (eds.) The Axial Age and its Consequences (Harvard University Press, 2012) pp.317-334.

Trinity College, Cambridge 2014