Dr Will Leggett

Dr Will Leggett

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Senior Lecturer in Sociology
School of Social Policy REF Environment Lead

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Will Leggett researches and teaches in the areas of political sociology and social and political theory, with a particular focus on the relationship between social change, ideology and political identities and action.



  • D.Phil. Social and Political Thought, University of Sussex
  • MA Sociology (with Distinction), University of Essex
  • BA Hons. (First Class) Politics and Sociology, University of Warwick


  • L3 Political Sociology
  • L3 Contemporary Social Theory
  • L2 Self and Society
  • PhD and MA dissertation supervision

Postgraduate supervision

Will has extensive experience of supervising PhDs to successful completion. He would particularly welcome applications from research students in the following areas:

  • Political Sociology, including: state-society relations; ideology and political action; political behaviour and individualised political practices; governance and ‘behaviour change’
  • The relationship between social theory and political analysis and action
  • (Centre) Left political ideology, parties and movements


Will’s work analyses how governors and citizens adapt their political ideas and practices in the face of social change and shifting understandings of human behaviour. He is currently examining the political implications of increasingly individualised practices: these include attempts to shape citizens through ‘nudging’, or the adoption of mindfulness meditation or similar techniques. Will’s work is strongly theoretically driven, and he has developed a wide-ranging account of the society-politics relation in his most recent book, Politics and Social Theory: The Inescapably Social, The Irreducibly Political (Palgrave, 2017).

Will also has a longstanding research interest in progressive ideology and politics, social democracy and the British Labour Party. He has charted how centre-left modernisers developed and responded to narratives about social change (e.g. globalisation), and has offered critical alternatives across a range of publications including his After New Labour: Social Theory and Centre-Left Politics (2005, Palgrave Macmillan).


Leggett, W. (2017) Politics and Social Theory: The Inescapably Social, the Irreducibly Political, London: Palgrave.

Leggett, W. (2014) ‘The politics of behaviour change: Nudge, neoliberalism and the state’, Policy & Politics, 42 (1): 3-19. *(AWARDED 2015 KEN YOUNG PRIZE FOR BEST OVERALL ARTICLE IN POLICY & POLITICS)*

Leggett, W. (2013) 'Restoring society to post-structuralist politics: Mouffe, Gramsci and radical democracy', Philosophy and Social Criticism, 39 (3): 299-315.

Leggett, W. (2011) ‘The analytical and political limits to ‘interpreting’ governance’, British Politics, 6 (2): 241-51.

Leggett, W. (2010) ‘What makes progressive ideology? Lessons from the Third Way’ (with a reply by Prof. Lord Giddens), in Hickson, K. and Griffiths, S. (eds.) British Party Politics and Ideology after New Labour, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 53-66.

Leggett, W. (2009) ‘Prince of modernisers: Gramsci, New Labour and the meaning of modernity’, in McNally, M. and Schwarzmantel, J. (eds.) Gramsci and Global Politics: Hegemony and Resistance, London: Routledge, pp. 137-55.

Leggett, W. (2007) ‘British social democracy beyond New Labour’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 9 (3): 346-64.

Leggett, W. (2005) After New Labour: Social Theory and Centre-Left Politics, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Leggett, W. (2005) ‘It’s the culture, stupid! New Labour’s progressive consensus’, Political Quarterly , 76 (4): 550-57.

Leggett, W. (2004) 'Social change, values and political agency’, Politics , 24 (1): 12-19.

Hale, S., Leggett, W. and Martell, L. (eds.) (2004) The Third Way and Beyond: Criticisms, Futures, Alternatives, Manchester: MUP.

Leggett, W. (2002) 'Reflexive modernization and reconstructing the Third Way' The Sociological Review, 50 (3):  419-36.

View all publications in research portal


Behaviour change and 'Nudge'; Labour Party; British politics; political ideas and ideologies; political culture; social change

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office


Behaviour change and 'Nudge'; Labour Party; British politics; political ideas and ideologies; political culture; social change

Other information

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office