Professor Rob Stones

Professor Rob Stones



Before coming to Western Sydney in January 2013, Rob Stones was Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex in the UK. During his time at Essex he held positions as Head of the Department of Sociology and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He has published extensively in the areas of social and sociological theory and on their use in empirical case study research. He continues to develop the approach of Strong Structuration Theory (SST), which has been taken up by empirical researchers in many fields. His most recent monograph, Why Current Affairs Needs Social Theory (2015), provides the conceptual tools for audiences for news and current affairs to bring greater sophistication to their interpretations, and was written to emphasize the public value of social theory. A key current project, carreid out in collaboration with Bryan S.Turner, combines SST with moral and political philosophy to construct a progressive framework for research based on the idea of successful societies. The framework is designed to bring careful reflection on values and morality into the heart of social science research, and to empower a plurality of more humane, locally informed and principled challenges to current ways of organising social relations. An expanded third edition of his edited book, Key Sociological Thinkers, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017. His commitment to deepening the role of theoretical reflection in sociology and the social sciences has led him in to many collaborations with other scholars and researchers in diverse areas. This includes work on epistemology and the precise status of knowledge claims, on the political ethics of higher education, on the political sociology of Thailand, on theoretical and empricial issues in international migration, and on theorising the role of technology in healthcare. He edits two book series for Palgrave Macmillan, Traditions in Social Theory and Themes in Social Theory.  He was a member of the editorial team of the Journal of Sociology 2013-2017, and is currently co-convenor of TASA's social theory section together with Jordan McKenzie and Erin Carlisle.

This information has been contributed by Professor Stones.


  • PhD University of Essex (UK)
  • MA University of Leeds (UK)
  • BA Bristol University (UK)

Professional Memberships

  • Australian Sociological Association (2013)
  • British Sociological Association (1990)
  • American Sociological Association (1992)


  • Application of Social Theory to Case Studies
  • Social Theory, News and Current Affairs
  • Social and Political Theory and Thai Society
  • Strong Structuration Theory (SST)
  • Theorising Successful Societies

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Sociology


Location: 3.8.11

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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 101330 Self and Society, 2013
  • 101330 Self and Society, 2014
  • 101330 Self and Society, 2015
  • 101330 Self and Society, 2016
  • 101330 Self and Society, 2017
  • 101760 Honours Pathway, 2014
  • 101760 Honours Pathway, 2015



  • Stones, R. (2017), 'Key Sociological Thinkers', : Palgrave 9781137611208.
  • Stones, R. (2015), 'Why Current Affairs Needs Social Theory', : Bloomsbury Academic 9781780933481.
  • Stones, R. (2005), 'Structuration Theory', : Palgrave 9780333793787.

Chapters in Books

  • Stones, R. (2017), 'Political sociology and political theory', The SAGE Handbook of Political Sociology, Sage 9781473919464.
  • Stones, R. (2017), 'Introduction : developing theoretical skills by engaging with Key Sociological Thinkers', Key Sociological Thinkers, Palgrave 9781137611208.
  • Stones, R. (2014), 'Strengths and limitations of Luc Boltanski's On Critique', The Spirit of Luc Boltanski: Essays on the 'Pragmatic Sociology of Critique', Anthem Press 9781783082964.
  • O'Reilly, K., Stones, R. and Botterill, K. (2013), 'Lifestyle migration in East Asia : integrating ethnographic methodology and practice theory', Sage Research Methods Cases, Sage 9781446273050.
  • Stones, R. (2012), 'Power and structuration theory', Power and Politics. Vol. 3, Sage 9780857025685.
  • Stones, R. (2010), 'Enlarging civic mentalities : the roles of moral philosophy, narrative story-telling and social theory', Transformative Challenges: Modern Civilization and Beyond, Kung Hee University Press 9788982223365.
  • Stones, R. (2010), 'Refusing the realism-structuration divide', Structure and Agency, Sage 9781848600317.
  • Stones, R. (2009), 'Theories of social action', The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory, Wiley-Blackwell 9781405169004.
  • Stones, R. and Moog, S. (2009), 'Introduction. Intricate webs - nature, social relations, and human needs in the writings of Ted Benton', Nature, Social Relations and Human Need: Essays in Honour of Ted Benton, Palgrave Macmillan 9780230201156.
  • Stones, R. (2008), 'Introduction : continuity and change in the preoccupations of key sociological thinkers', Key Sociological Thinkers, Palgrave Macmillan 9780230001565.
  • Kim, S. and Stones, R. (2008), 'Film, postmodernism and the sociological imagination : exploring the power of local stories in Southern Korea and Northern England', Korea: Economic, Political and Social Issues, Nova 9781604565133.
  • Kim, S. and Stones, R. (2007), 'Film, postmodernism and the sociological imagination : exploring the power of local stories in Southern Korea and Northern England', Reconstructing Postmodernism, Nova Science 9781600216381.
  • Stones, R. (2006), 'Rights, social theory and political philosophy : a framework for case study research', Rights: Sociological Perspectives, Routledge 9780415355216.

Journal Articles

  • Stones, R. and Turner, B. (2020), 'Successful societies : decision-making and the quality of attentiveness', British Journal of Sociology, vol 71, no 1 , pp 183 - 199.
  • Stones, R., Botterill, K., Lee, M. and O'Reilly, K. (2019), 'One world is not enough : the structured phenomenology of lifestyle migrants in East Asia', The British Journal of Sociology, vol 70, no 1 , pp 44 - 69.
  • Greenhalgh, T., Wherton, J., Shaw, S., Papoutsi, C., Vijayaraghavan, S. and Stones, R. (2019), 'Infrastructure revisited : an ethnographic case study of how health information infrastructure shapes and constrains technological innovation', Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol 21, no 12 .
  • Stones, R. (2017), 'Sociology's unspoken weakness : bringing epistemology back in', Journal of Sociology, vol 53, no 4 , pp 730 - 752.
  • Greenhalgh, T., Shaw, S., Wherton, J., Hughes, G., Lynch, J., A'Court, C., Hinder, S., Byrne, E., Finlayson, A., Sorell, T., Procter, R. and Stones, R. (2016), 'SCALS : a fourth-generation study of assisted living technologies in their organisational, social, political and policy context', BMJ Open, vol 6, no 2 , pp 1 - 13.
  • Stones, R. and Jack, L. (2016), 'The bridge between ontological concepts and empirical evidence : an interview with Rob Stones', Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, vol 29, no 7 , pp 1145 - 1151.
  • Greenhalgh, T., Stones, R. and Swinglehurst, D. (2014), 'Choose and book : a sociological analysis of 'resistance' to an expert system', Social Science and Medicine, vol 104 , pp 210 - 219.
  • Stones, R. (2014), 'Social theory and current affairs : a framework for intellectual engagement', British Journal of Sociology, vol 65, no 2 , pp 293 - 316.
  • Greenhalgh, T., Wherton, J., Sugarhood, P., Hinder, S., Procter, R. and Stones, R. (2013), 'What matters to older people with assisted living needs? : a phenomenological analysis of the use and non-use of telehealth and telecare', Social Science and Medicine, vol 93 , pp 86 - 94.
  • Stones, R. and Tangsupvattana, A. (2012), 'Social theory, current affairs, and Thailand's political turmoil : seeing beyond reds vs. yellows', Journal of Political Power, vol 5, no 2 , pp 217 - 238.
  • Stones, R. (2012), 'Book review. Social Theory: Twenty Introductory Lectures', Journal of Classical Sociology, vol 12, no 3-4 , pp 544 - 552.
  • Stones, R. (2012), 'Causality, contextual frames and international migration : combining strong structuration theory, critical realism and textual analysis', International Migration Institute Working Papers Series, vol 62 .
  • Greenhalgh, T. and Stones, R. (2010), 'Theorising big IT programmes in healthcare : strong structuration theory meets actor-network theory', Social Science & Medicine, vol 70, no 9 , pp 1285 - 1294.

Conference Papers

  • Stones, R. (2014), 'Why current affairs needs social theory : an illustrative case study of rights' abuses in Burma', Australian Sociological Association. Conference, University of South Australia.

Other Publications

  • 2014, 'Rethinking Resistance to 'Big IT': A Sociological Study of Why and When Healthcare Staff Do Not Use Nationally Mandated Information and Communication Technologies', Report

I have recently completed a book for Bloomsbury Academic, Why Current Affairs Needs Social Theory (publication date, 26th February 2015), which demonstrates how social theory can inform more adequate readings of news and current affairs stories. The book is aimed at a general audience and is intended as a contribution to public sociology. It is based on the belief that academic social and political analysis will be most effective when it engages directly with representations already circulating in the public sphere. A series of related journal articles will continue to explore and develop the role social, political and cultural theory can play in the analysis of news and current affairs in a range of different areas and genres.   

I continue to develop strong structuration theory (SST), a version of structuration theory I have developed and refined for use in empirical case study research (see Structuration Theory, 2005, Palgrave Macmillan). SST is being drawn on and extended in interesting ways by researchers in a number of different fields, and this also influences my own work. I regard SST as an important but  'open' approach that is easily and fruitfully combined with other theoretical positions, depending on the issues being  addressed by a particular piece of research. I am currently directly involved in two funded projects using this approach:

The first is in a project project funded by the NIHR - SDO (National Institute for Health Research) using strong structuration as the basis for developing theory and method for studying Resistance’ to Big IT programmes in Healthcare. This is part of an ongoing collaboration with Trish Greenhalgh,??? Professor of Primary Health Care Sciences, University of Oxford.

The second is is a bilateral ESRC/RCG funded project entitled Lifestyle Migration in East Asia: A comparative Study of British and Asian Lifestyle Migrants with Professor Karen O’Reilly of Loughborough University and Professor Maggy Lee from the Department of Sociology at Hong Kong University. The research is examining lifestyle migration in Asian contexts, through a comparative study of Hong Kong migrants to mainland China and British migrants (and prior Hong Kong expatriates) in Thailand and Malaysia.

Another ongoing research project is on recent and continuing political conflict in Thailand, and this is in collaboration with Dr Ake Tansupvattana of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. See 'Social Theory, Current Affairs, and Thailand's Political Turmoil: Seeing Beyond Reds vs. Yellows', Journal of Political Power, vol.5, No.2, August 2012.

A constant strand in my publications is an appreciative and critical engagement with the work of other theorists, which I draw on in developing my own theoretical approach to case study analysis. Most recently I have written a review article on Hans Joas and Wolfgang Knobl's Social Theory: Twenty Introductory Lectures, in The Journal of Classical Sociology, vol.12, (3-4), September 2012, and a chapter entitled 'Strengths and Weaknesses of Luc Boltanski's On Critique', published in S. Susen and B.S. Turner (eds) The Spirit of Luc Boltanski, London and New York: Anthem Press, 2014. A third edition of my edited volume Key Sociological Thinkers is currently being prepared and will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in early 2016. 

This information has been contributed by Professor Stones.

Previous Projects

Title: Bilateral (Hong Kong): Lifestyle Migration in East Asia: A Comparative Study of British and Asian Lifestyle Migrants [via Loughborough Uni]
  • Economic and Social Research Council
Western Researchers: Rob Stones
Years: 2013-06-25 - 2015-04-30
ID: P00021690


Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Evangelical Christian Discourse: Contours and Contradictions
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: "With Us or Against Us?" Hegemony and Ideology within American Superhero Comic Books 2001-2008
Field of Research: Political Science; Sociology

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