Colin Sumner Professor 353 (0)21 490-2900

President Michael D. Higgins, Professor Colin Sumner and Dr. Kieran Keohane at Isaac's Restaurant, Cork on 15th November 2013Colin is probably best known for two critically acclaimed books: Reading Ideologies (1979) and The Sociology of Deviance: an Obituary (1994/2013). In 2015 and 2017, colleagues organized conferences around his work. A book is now published with Palgrave MacMillan, edited by Tony Amatrudo, entitled Social Censure and Critical Criminology: After Sumner

His career began in Sheffield Polytechnic as part of the team that created the first socio-legal studies bloc of teaching in the UK in 1972. He took a lectureship in sociology at UCW, Aberystwyth, in 1974, where he finished his PhD and  taught social theory, research methodology, and the sociology of crime and deviance.

From 1977 to 1995, he was a Lecturer in Sociology at the Institute of Criminology and a Fellow of Wolfson College, in the University of Cambridge, gaining an honorary MA for teaching services in 1995. He remains a Member of Wolfson College.  Colin moved on to become Professor of Criminology and Head/Dean of the School of Law in the University of East London. In this role, he was active on University Research, Research Degrees, Professorial Designations and International Marketing Committees, and a frequent adviser to Senior Management Team.

He has now designed and launched 3 degree programmes in criminology, at UEL, Salford and UCC. His postgraduate supervision has been praised in print and he has supervised 17 doctorates to successful completion and over 200 Master’s dissertations. At UEL, in partnership with an Iraeli private college, he created a Law School extension college in Haifa, Israel, as co-education for peace project.

Over the years, he had been a Visiting Professor of Sociology at Queen’s, St. Mary’s, and Simon Fraser universities in Canada, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong; a Visiting Professor of Law at the universities of Dar es Salaam and Victoria [Canada]; a Visiting Professor of Criminology at Barcelona and Hamburg universities; and a Visiting Fellow in the Sociology of Law at the University of California at Berkeley and at the Onati International Institute for the Sociology of Law.

In 1997, Colin co-founded, with Prof. Piers Beirne, and then edited Theoretical Criminology, the first international journal of criminology, published by Sage. For many years, he had been an Associate Editor for the journal Socio-Legal Studies. In 2004 he edited an international handbook The Blackwell Companion to Criminology, having earlier edited a book series called New Directions in Criminology with the Open UP. In 2011, he developed an online criminology magazine called CrimeTalk at .

Research and Teaching Interests

Sociology of crime and deviance; social theory; criminology; sociology of law; media studies; research methodology; jurisprudence.

He got grants for his personal research from the British Council, McCarthy-Tétrault, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Spanish Ministry of Education. Additionally, he has organized 3 major conferences: two in Cambridge - on Crime, Justice & the Media and on Crime and Justice in the Third World [ESRC funded]; and one for the Philippine government with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Policing in a Multicultural Democracy.


The Sociology of Deviance: an Obituary (1994 Open UP and Continuum, now 2013 CrimeTalk Books)

Reading Ideologies (1979 Academic Press)

The Blackwell Companion to Criminology (ed. 2004 Blackwell).

Policing in a Multicultural Democracy (ed. 2000 Lorenzo Publications)

Violence, Culture and Censure (ed. 1997 Taylor & Francis) 

Social Control and Political Order (1997, ed. with Roberto Bergalli, Sage)

Censure, Politics and Criminal Justice (ed. 1990 Open University Press)

Crime, Justice and the Mass Media (ed. 1982 Cambridge University)

Crime, Justice and Underdevelopment (ed. 1982 Heinemann).

Books about Colin's work

Anthony Amatrudo (2017 ed.) Social Censure and Critical Criminology: After Sumner. Palgrave MacMillan.

Michael Dellwing, Joseph Kotarba & Nathan Pino (2014 eds.) The Death & Resurrection of Deviance. Palgrave MacMillan.

Jack Lindsey (1981) The Crisis in Marxism. Moonraker Press.

Selected Articles

2017 Criminology through the looking-glass. In: A. Amatrudo & Rauxloh, R.E. [eds.] Law in Popular Belief: Myth and Reality. Manchester: Manchester UP, pp. 15-29.

2015  Critical realism, overdetermination and social censure. In: D. Crewe & R. Lippens [eds.] What is Criminology About? Philosophical Reflections. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 195-209.

2015 Measure for Measure: Justice in the society of censure. In: M.H. Jacobsen (ed.) The Poetics of Crime. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 97-118.

2012 Media, policing and politics. Parts 1-3, CrimeTalk.

2012 Censure, culture and political economy: beyond the death of deviance debate.  In S. Hall [ed.] New Directions in Criminological Theory.  Cullompton: Devon.

2006 Censure, criminology and politics.  In I.Rivera, H.C.Silveira, E.Bodelón and A.Recasens (eds.) Contornos y Pliegues del Derecho. Barcelona: Anthropos, pp. 140-6.

2001 Entries on Deviance and Social Censure.  In: E. McLaughlin & J.Muncie (eds.) The Sage Dictionary of Criminology.  London: Sage, pp. 89-90 and 265-6.

1997 Censure, crime and state. In M.Maguire, R.Morgan and R.Reiner (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology.  2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 499-510.

1990. Foucault, gender and the censure of deviance. In Feminist Perspectives in Criminology  (L.Gelsthorpe and  A.Morris, eds.)Milton Keynes: Open UP, pp. 26-40.

1983 Law and legitimation in the advanced capitalist state: the jurisprudence and social theory of Jurgen Habermas. In Legality, Ideology and the State (D. Sugarman, ed.).  London: Academic Press, pp. 119-58. Reprinted in M.Vogel [ed.] Crime, Inequality and the State, 2007, London: Routledge.

1983 Rethinking deviance: toward a sociology of censures. In Research in Law, Deviance and Social Control, Vol. 5. (S.Spitzer, ed.). Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, pp. 187-204.

1981 Race, crime and hegemony. Contemporary Crises, 5 (3), 277-91.

1981 The rule of law and civil rights in contemporary Marxist theory. Kapitalistate, 9, 63-91.

1981 Pashukanis and the "jurisprudence of terror". Insurgent Sociologist, special issue, x (4) and xi (1), 99-106.

1976 Marxism and deviancy theory. In Sociology of Crime and Delinquency in Britain, Vol. 2: The New Criminologies (P.Wiles, ed.)  London: Martin Robertson, pp. 159-74.

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