Professor Paul James

Portrait photo of Professor Paul JamesPaul James is Professor of Globalization and Cultural Diversity in the Institute for Culture and Society at the Western Sydney University. He is author or editor of over 30 books, including Globalization Matters: Engaging the Global in Unsettled Times (with Manfred Steger, Cambridge University Press, 2019). Other books include 16 volumes mapping the field of globalization (Sage). That collection is the most comprehensive and systematic representation of the field of globalization studies, comprising 3.5 million words.

He is Scientific Advisor to the Mayor of Berlin, and to Metropolis, the World Association of Major Metropolises. He has also been an advisor to a number of other agencies and governments including the Canadian Prime Minister’s G20 Forum, and the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor Leste. His work for the Papua New Guinea Minister for Community Development became the basis for the country’s Integrated Community Development Policy. From 2007 till 2014 he was Director of the United Nations agency, the Global Compact Cities Programme. He has given invited presentations to universities and public institutions in 42 countries.

Paul James is a social theorist with three overlapping areas of research focus. The first is globalization and its impact upon social relations, from national community to local community. The second is social change and the human condition, including the impact of modernization on customary and traditional ways of being. The third is sustainability with an emphasis on sustainable urbanization. These areas of focus are integrated through an approach to social theory called 'engaged theory', encompassing questions of social formation, social integration and ontological tension.


  • PhD, 1991, Ashworth Social Theory Centre, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne.
  • BA (Hons), 1981, Department of Political Science, University of Melbourne.

Honours and Awards

  • 2016 - 2020: Metropolis Ambassador of Urban Innovation
  • 2017: Jean Monnet Award for work on sustainability
  • 2014: Prize for the best research in Quality of Life Studies
  • 2010 - 2016: Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, London
  • 2013 - 2015: Honorary Professor, Department of Geography, King’s College London
  • 2013: Professorial Fellow, Columbia University, New York
  • 2007: Professorial Fellow, University of Helsinki, Helsinki
  • 2006–2008: Advisor to the Minister for Community Development, Papua New Guinea
  • 2005: Professorial Fellow, Washington University, St Louis
  • 2005: Bronze Medal, 'Beyond the Frontiers of Knowledge', University of Malaya
  • 2004: Advisor to the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, Timor Leste
  • 2002: British Academy award for international collaboration
  • 2000: Professorial Fellow, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 1997: Professorial Fellow, Justus-Liebig Universit├Ąt, Germany
  • 1996: Crisp Medal, Australasian Political Studies Association for the best writing in political studies
  • 1994–1996: Australian Research Council Fellow
  • 1991: Japan-Australia People's Forum Fellow

Selected Publications

Downloadable PDFs of sections of these books can be found on Paul James' profile (opens in a new window).

Steger, MB & James P 2019, Globalization matters: Engaging the global in unsettled times, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

James, P 2006, Globalism, nationalism, tribalism: Bringing theory back in, Sage Publications, London.

James, P, with Magee, L, Scerri, A & Steger, MB 2015, Urban sustainability in theory and practice: Circles of sustainability, Routledge, London.

James, P 1996, Nation formation: Towards a theory of abstract community, Sage, London.

James, P, Nadarajah, Y, Haive, K and Stead, V 2012, Sustainable communities, sustainable development: Other paths for Papua New Guinea, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Nairn, T & James, P 2005, Global matrix: Nationalism, globalism and state-terrorism, Pluto Press, London.

Ames, S, Barns, I Hinkson, J, James, P, Preece, G & Sharp, S 2018, Religion in a secular age: The struggle for meaning in an abstracted world, Arena Publications, North Carlton.

James, P & Gills, B eds, 2007, Globalization and economy, vol. 1: Global markets and capitalism, Sage Publications, London.

James, P ed., 2014, Globalization and politics, vol. 4: Political philosophies of the global, Sage Publications, London.

Sleeth, M (photographs) & James P (text) 2002, Tour of duty: Winning hearts and minds in East Timor, Hardie Grant Publishing, Melbourne.

Access All Publications



Sign up to our mailing list