Dr Justin Cruickshank

Dr Justin Cruickshank

School of Social Policy
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Justin entered higher education as a mature student studying an interdisciplinary social science foundation course with the Open University and then went to the University of Kent as a full time student to study for a degree in Politics and Sociology. After that he went to the University of Warwick to study for an MA in Philosophy and Social Theory followed by a PhD in Sociology.

He researches and teaches in the areas of classical and contemporary social and sociological theory, the philosophy of the social sciences and the sociology and politics of knowledge production.

He welcomes applications from people seeking to undertake doctoral research in the areas of:

  • critical pedagogy and the sociology of higher education
  • neoliberalism, big data, the quantified self and audit culture
  • classical and contemporary social theory
  • the philosophy of the social sciences, especially issues concerning critical realism and ontology, pragmatism and problem-solving, and theories of dialogic knowledge development
  • the sociology and politics of knowledge, especially as applied to the issues of public intellectuals, expertise and the democratisation of the public sphere

A full list of publications is available at Academia.edu: https://bham.academia.edu/JustinCruickshank

Justin is a member of the Contemporary Philosophy of Technology Research Group.


  • PhD (Warwick) Sociology (Awarded 2000)
  • Warwick Teaching Certificate in Post-Compulsory Education (Awarded 1999)
  • MA (Warwick) Philosophy and Social Theory (Awarded with Distinction 1995)
  • BA (Hons) (Kent) Politics and Government and Sociology (Awarded with First Class Honours 1994)
  • Rotary International Prize Awarded Summer 1994


Justin Cruickshank's research interests concern the development of post-positivist theorising in social and political theory. Specific topics engaged with include concept formation, the justification strategies of different meta-theories and the role of normative commitments in theorising.

He was a Visiting Scholar at the Department for the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge in 2008 and was invited to give a presentation at a conference on Popper and objective knowledge in the social sciences at the European University Institute in 2009. Justin’s research began with adapting the critical realist tradition by emphasising the need for conceptual development in empirical research with this being applied to empirical research into unemployment. He subsequently moved away from critical realism, taking more of an interest in debates about fallibilistic models of science, pragmatism and Popper's philosophy. He has published a monograph with Routledge, an edited book with Routledge, journal articles in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences, the Sociological Review, Health, Res Publica and the Journal of Critical Realism, together with review articles in Sociology and the Journal of Critical Realism, and a variety of chapters in edited collections


Justin teaches social theory and the philosophy of social science.

He currently teaches on the following modules:

Social Theory: Contested Knowledges (core course on the MA in Social and Political Theory) [convenor]

This modules address post-positivist conceptions of knowledge and the relationship of science to critical social theory and democracy.

Contemporary Social Theory (core yr 3 course on the Sociology BA programme) [convenor]

Justin teaches the final section of this module which deals with two questions, namely, should the social sciences be modelled on the natural sciences and should the social sciences seek knowledge of objective structures or not?

Modern Social Theory (core yr 2 course on the Sociology BA programme)

Justin lectures on Systems Sociology and Micro Sociology for this course and runs seminars throughout the year.

Social Worlds and the Sociological Imagination (core yr 1 course on the Sociology BA programme) [convenor]

This covers the following questions: what is society ? (conceived of in normative terms about the 'good' society' in relation to private property); what is sociology? and the 'structure - agency problem'.

Sociology of Self and Everyday Life (core yr 1 course on the Sociology BA programme)

Here Justin gives 5 lectures on elites, knowledge and democracy dealing with questions such do expert elites undermine democratic dialogue? and do economic and political elites undermine democracy by manipulating public opinion?.

Postgraduate supervision

First Supervisor:

  • David Ridley (2014 start) 'Dewey and the case for citizen sociology'
  • Julius Elster (2015 start) 'Metareflexivity and youth transition in Haringey'

Second Supervisor:

  • Onur Acaroglu (2015 start) 'The Fatsa Commune and the problem of transition in Marxist analysis' (with Will Leggett).
  • Tai Ling (2015 start)  ‘Performativity in Modernity: The fate of performativity and cultural aesthetics in relation to the media and technology’ (with Ross Abbinnett).


Research and academic interests

  • Big data and the quantified self
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Philosophy of social science (especially critical realism, pragmatism, hermeneutics, critical theory)
  • The sociology of public intellectuals, experts and epistemic hierarchies
  • The sociology of education, especially audit culture and higher education
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Social Theory



Cruickshank, J. and Sassower, R. 2017. Democratic Problem-Solving: Dialogues in Social Epistemology (London: Rowman and Littlefield [Philosophy: 'Collective Studies in Knowledge and Society' series]). Information about the book can be found here

Cruickshank, J. 2017. ‘Meritocracy and Reification’, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6 (5): 4-19. [Commentary, stemming from the book’s discussion]. Available at: https://social-epistemology.com/2017/05/05/meritocracy-and-reification-justin-cruickshank/


Cruickshank, J. 2016. ‘Critical Realism’ (Chapter 23) in L. McIntyre and A. Rosenberg (eds), pp. 270-280. Routledge Companion To Philosophy Of Social Science. New York: Routledge.
Cruickshank, J. 2016. ‘Review of: C. Smith “To Flourish Or Destruct: A Personalist Theory Of Human Goods, Motivations, Failure, And Evil”’. Chicago: University Of Chicago. American Journal Of Sociology 122 (2): 657-658.

Cruickshank, J. 'Rowan Williams And Hans-Georg Gadamer Contra Jürgen Habermas: Rethinking The Problem Of Religion For Liberals As A Problem Of Dialogue'. Current Perspectives In Social Theory vol. 35 (Restructuring Social Theory, History and Practice): 171-191.

Cruickshank, J. et al. 2016. The Alternative White Paper For Higher Education. In Defence Of Public Higher Education: Knowledge For a Successful Society. A Response To ‘Success As A Knowledge Economy’, BIS (2016). J. Holmwood, T. Hickey, R. Cohen and S. Wallis (eds). London: Convention for Higher Education. Available at: https://heconvention2.wordpress.com/alternative/

Cruickshank, J. 2016. ‘Dialogue And The Development Of Ideas In The Political And Social Sciences: From Critical Realism To Problem-Solving Via Colin Hay And The Rejection Of The Epistemic Fallacy’, European Journal Of Cultural And Political Sociology (3): 1. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23254823.2016.1162664

Cruickshank, J. 2016. ‘Putting Business At The Heart Of Higher Education: On Neoliberal Interventionism And Audit Culture In UK Universities’, Open Library Of Humanities (special issue: ‘The Abolition Of The University’), edited by L. Dear (Glasgow) and M. Eve (Birkbeck), 2 (1): 1-33. Available at: https://olh.openlibhums.org/articles/10.16995/olh.77/


Cruickshank, J. 2015. ‘Anti-Authority: Comparing Popper And Rorty On The Dialogic Development Of Beliefs And Practices’, Social Epistemology: A Journal Of Knowledge, Culture And Policy 29 (1): 73-94. 

See the replies:

Reed, I.A. 2013. ‘Science, Democracy And Sociology In The 21st Century: Response To Cruickshank’s “Anti-Authority”’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 2 (12): 40-45. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2013/11/15/science-democracy-and-sociology-in-the-21st-century-response-to-cruickshanks-anti-authority-isaac-ariail-reed/

Sassower, R. 2014. ‘A Bridge Over Turbulent Waters: A Reply To Justin Cruickshank On Comparing Popper And Rorty’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3 (3): 57-59. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/02/19/a-bridge-over-turbulent-waters-a-reply-to-justin-cruickshank-on-comparing-popper-and-rorty-raphael-sassower/

Sassower, R. 2014. ‘Problem-Solving Critical Contingencies: Popper And Rorty According To Cruickshank’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3(6): 30-32. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/05/05/problem-solving-critical-contingencies-popper-and-rorty-according-to-cruickshank-raphael-sassower/

Sassower, R. 2014. 'Beyond Lamentations: Comments On Justin Cruickshank's Public Intellectuals, Education And The Need For Dissatisfation', Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3 (7): 50-54. Availble at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/06/26/beyond-lamentations-comments-on-justin-cruickshanks-public-intellectuals-education-and-the-need-for-dissatisfaction-raphael-sassower/

Sassower, R. 2014. ‘Appealing To Academics To Become Public Intellectuals: A Reply To Justin Cruickshank And Ioana Cerasella Chis’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 2 (11): 42-45. Available at:

Sassower, R. 2014. ‘Radical Public Intellectuals’, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4 (1): 57-63. Available at:

And the responses :

Cruickshank, J. 2014. ‘Problem-Solving And The Social Production Of Knowledge: A Reply To Isaac Reed’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3 (2): 24-33. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/01/14/problem-solving-and-the-social-production-of-knowledge-a-reply-to-isaac-reed-justin-cruickshank/

Cruickshank, J. 2014. ‘From Ex Cathedra Legislators To Dialogic Exemplars? Popper, Rorty And The Politics And Sociology Of Knowledge. A Reply To Raphael Sassower’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3 (5): 30-41. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/04/03/from-ex-cathedra-legislators-to-dialogic-exemplars-popper-rorty-and-the-politics-and-sociology-of-knowledge-justin-cruickshank/

Cruickshank, J. 2014. ‘Public Intellectuals, Education And The Need For Dissatisfaction: Comments On Raphael Sassower's Discussion Of Popper, Rorty And Democracy’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3 (7): 1-4. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/06/01/public-intellectuals-education-and-the-need-for-dissatisfaction-comments-on-raphael-sassowers-discussion-of-popper-rorty-and-democracy-justin-cruickshank/

Cruickshank, J. and Chis, I.C. 2014. ‘Exit, Voice And Loyalty In The Public Sphere: On The Hollowing Out Of Universities And The “Trojan Horse” Attack On The Muslim Community In The UK. Continuing The Dialogue With Raphael Sassower’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3 (9): 57-70. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/08/29/exit-voice-and-loyalty-in-the-public-sphere-on-the-hollowing-out-of-universities-and-the-trojan-horse-attack-on-the-muslim-community-in-the-uk-justin-cruickshank-and-ioana-cerasel/

Chis, I.C. and Cruickshank, J. 2014. ‘The Cost Of Public Intellectuals: Reflections On Raphael Sassower’s Call For Intellectuals To Influence Elites And Their Publics’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 3 (3): 16-26. Available at: http://social-epistemology.com/2014/12/08/the-cost-of-public-intellectuals-reflections-on-raphael-sassowers-call-for-intellectuals-to-influence-elites-and-their-publics-ioana-cerasella-chis-and-justin-cruickshank/

Cruickshank, J. and Chis, I.C. 2015. ‘Big Data, TTIP And The Hubris Of Techno-Capitalism’, Social Epistemology Review And Reply Collective 4 (3): 45-55. Available at:


Cruickshank, J. 2014. ‘Democracy versus the Domination of Instrumental Rationality: Defending Dewey’s Argument for Democracy as an Ethical Way of Life’, Humanities 3 (1): 19-41. Available at: http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/3/1/19

Cruickshank, J. 2014. ‘Reply to Hartwig and Elder-Vass’, Understanding society (blog): http://understandingsociety.blogspot.co.uk/


Cruickshank, J. 2013. Entry for ‘Epistemology’, Oxford Online Bibliography in Sociology. Oxford University Press. [Peer reviewed; 12, 500 words.]

Cruickshank, J. 2013. Review of: I. A. Reed ‘Interpretation And Social Knowledge: On The Use Of Theory In The Human Sciences’, Cultural Sociology 7 (1): 104-105.


Cruickshank, J. 2012. ‘Positioning Positivism, Social Constructionism And Critical Realism In The Health Sciences: A Philosophical Orientation’, Nursing Inquiry: Interdisciplinary Perspectives On Policy And Healthcare 19 (1): 71-82 (special issue on critical realism). First published online in July 2011. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1800.2011.00558.x.


Cruickshank, J. 2011. The Positive And The Negative:

Assessing Critical Realism And Social Constructionism As Post-Positivist Approaches To Empirical Research In The Social Sciences’, Paper 42, International Migration Institute Working Paper Series, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford. Available online at: http://www.imi.ox.ac.uk/publications/working_papers


Cruickshank, J. 2010. ‘Knowing Social Reality: A Critique Of Bhaskar And Archer’s Attempt To Derive A Social Ontology From Lay Knowledge’, Philosophy Of The Social Sciences 40 (4) 579-602. First published online in July 2009.DOI: 10.1177/0048393109340664.

Cruickshank, J. 2010. ‘Structures, Agents And Criticism: Assessing Bhaskar’s Fact-To-Value And Value-To-Fact Arguments’, Politics 30 (3): 168-173. First published online in Sept. 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9256.2010.01380.

Cruickshank, J. 2010. ‘The Importance Of Nominal Problems’ in C. Valentini (ed) On Objective Knowledge In The Social Sciences And Humanities: Karl Popper And Beyond’ . European University Institute Working Papers in the Max Weber Programme (2010/37). ISSN 1830-7728. PP. 61-71. Also available online at: http://www.eui.eu/ProgrammesAndFellowships/MaxWeberProgramme/Publications.aspx


Cruickshank, J. 2008. ‘Some Realistic Considerations On The Death Of Philosophy’, Journal of Critical Realism 7 (2): 314-329.

[A review article dealing with: G. Calder ‘Rorty’s Politics Of Redescription’.]


Cruickshank, J. 2007. ‘The Usefulness Of Fallibilism: A Popperian Critique Of Critical Realism’, Philosophy Of The Social Sciences 37 (3): 263–288.

Clark, A.M., Macintrye, P. D., and Cruickshank, J. 2007. ‘A Critical Realist Approach To Understanding And Evaluating Heart Health Programmes’, Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal For The Social Study Of Heath, Illness And Medicine 11 (4): 513-539. 

Cruickshank, J. 2007. ‘Seeking The Tower Of Babel’, Sociology 41 (4): 741-748.

[A review article dealing with: P. Baert ‘Philosophy Of The Social Sciences’; B. Berberoglu ‘An Introduction To Classical And Contemporary Social Theory’; S. Clarke ‘From Enlightenment To Risk’ And G. Delanty ‘Social Science’.]

Cruickshank, J. 2007. Entry for ‘Essentialism’ in M. Hartwig (ed.) A Dictionary Of Critical Realism. London: Routledge. PP.180-181.