Dr Justin Cruickshank

Dr Justin Cruickshank

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Senior Lecturer
Department Director of MA Admissions

Contact details

School of Social Policy
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.


  • 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 studied politics and sociology as an undergraduate and philosophy and social theory at MA level. His PhD was on the critical realist turn to ontology in the social sciences. He has since moved away from critical realism to a concern, broadly speaking, with the sociology and politics of knowledge production and the role of technology, including audit culture, in shaping knowledge and selfhood. Justin has been a ‘Visiting Scholar’ in the History and Philosophy of Science Dept. at the University of Cambridge and has given invited talks at the European University Institute, Oxford University (International Migration Institute) and Edinburgh University on the philosophy of social science, and at Manchester Metropolitan University on the TEF and neoliberalism.

Justin was one of the authors who wrote the Alternative White Paper for Higher Education (published by the Convention for Higher Education and Sage), which was launched at the Houses of Parliament in June 2016. Justin is part of the collective running the Contemporary Philosophy of Technology Research Group, which is an interdisciplinary research group based at the University of Birmingham with members from a variety of disciplines and universities. 

Justin is a contributing editor to the Oxford University online bibliography.


Justin’s teaching is informed by his research interests in social theory, the philosophy of the social sciences, critical university studies and debates about the authoritarian nature of contemporary political economy.

He teaches on the following modules:

  • Modern Social Theory (core second year module)
    Justin convenes and teaches on this module which assesses the canon of sociology together feminist critiques of the canon, the work of Du Bois, micro-sociology, the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies under Stuart Hall.
  • Power, Control and Resistance (optional third year module)
    Justin convenes and co-teaches this, covering topics on authoritarian neoliberalism and the way it seeks to hollow out and securitise the public sphere. The Prevent Strategy, the Trojan Horse scandal and recent Govt. attempts to further marketise higher education are addressed.
  • Transforming Societies (core MA module on the MA in Sociology)
    Justin co-teaches this and teaches on topics of authoritarian neoliberalism and the attempt to replace politics with economics in public life.

Postgraduate supervision

PhD Students (first supervisor)

  • Christopher Haycock. Thesis title: ‘Student retention in Higher Education’. Part-time; funded by a scholarship from Coventry University. Oct. 2019 start.
  • Julius Elster. Thesis title: ‘Voices of young people in Tottenham: Youth-Identity Formation, Reflexivity and Negative Representations’. Full time; funded by a Birmingham University fees and maintenance bursary. Oct. 2015 – Sept. 2019. (With Ross Abbinnett.) (Examiners: Prof. Sarah Irwin (Leeds) and Dr Harriet Clarke.)
  • David Ridley. Thesis title: ‘The Method of Democracy: John Dewey’s Critical Social Theory’. Full time; funded by a Birmingham University fees bursary. Oct. 2014 – July 2019. (With Ross Abbinnett.). (Examiners: Prof. John Holmwood (Nottingham) and Prof. Simon Pemberton).

PhD Students (second supervisor)

  • Onur Acaroglu. Thesis title: ‘The Problem of Transition in Marxism’. Full time; self-funded. Oct. 2015 - 2020. (With Will Leggett.)
  • Tai Ling. Thesis title: ‘Performance and Critical theory’. Full time; self-funded. Oct. 2015 - 2020. (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. 2022. ‘Objectivity and Normativity’, in S. Balihar and G. Calder (eds), Ethics, Economy and Social Science: Dialogues with Andrew Sayer. Abingdon: Routledge.

Cruickshank, J. 2022. ‘Statist Marketisation and Culture Wars in Authoritarian Populist Times: From Nudging Student-Customer Demand to Changing Providers’ Supply’, in Cruickshank, J., and Abbinnett, R. (eds). The Social Production of Knowledge in a Neoliberal Age: Debating the Challenges facing Higher Education. London: Rowman and Littlefield International.

Cruickshank, J. and Abbinnett, R. (Eds.) 2022. The Social Production of Knowledge in a Neoliberal Age: Debating the Challenges facing Higher Education. London: Rowman and Littlefield International (Philosophy: Collective Studies in Knowledge and Society series).

Cruickshank, J. 2022. ‘Exploitation and the Politics of Knowledge: A Commentary on Luis Arboledas-Lérida’s Marxist Analysis of Science Communication’, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, 11 (4): 12-25. Available at: https://wp.me/p1Bfg0-6G5

Interview with Faculti about Dr Cruickshanks research on higher education


Cruickshank, J. 2020. ‘Solidarity, Critique and Techno-Science: Evaluating Rorty’s Pragmatism, Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and Vattimo’s Philosophical Hermeneutics’ (invited article), Human Affairs: Postdisciplinary Humanities and Social Sciences Quarterly (special issue on Philosophical Reflection and Technological Change, edited by Stephen Leach and James Tartaglia, (Keele, Philosophy)), 30 (4): 577-586.

Cruickshank, J. 2020. ‘The Expansion of Prevent: On the Politics of Legibility, Opacity and Decolonial Critique’, New Formations (double issue on Bureaucracy), 100-101: 43-59.

Cruickshank, J. 2020. ‘Epistemology’ [3000 words; peer reviewed], in S. Delamont, P. Atkinson, A. Cernat, R. A. Williams, and Sakshaug, J. (eds), SAGE Research Methods Foundations. London: Sage.

Cruickshank, J. 2020. ‘Falsification’ [5000 words; peer reviewed], in S. Delamont, P. Atkinson, A. Cernat, R. A. Williams and Sakshaug, J. (eds), SAGE Research Methods Foundations. London: Sage.


Cruickshank, J. 2019. ‘Economic Freedom and the Harm of Adaptation: On Gadamer, Authoritarian Technocracy and the Re-Engineering of English Higher Education’, Social Epistemology (Special Issue on Neoliberalism, Technocracy and Higher Education), 33 (4): 337 – 354. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02691728.2019.1638988

Cruickshank, J. and Abbinnett, R. 2019. ‘Editors’ Introduction to the Special Issue of Social Epistemology on “Neoliberalism, Technocracy and Higher Education”’, Social Epistemology (Special issue on Neoliberalism, Technocracy and Higher Education), 33 (4): 273 – 279. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02691728.2019.1638983

Cruickshank, J. and Abbinnett, R. (eds) 2019. Social Epistemologyspecial issue on Neoliberalism, Technocracy and Higher Education, 33 (4): 273 - 392. (Articles by: Ross Abbinnett, Prof. Bob Antonio, Jana Bacevic, Justin Cruickshank, Prof. Richard Hall, Prof. John Holmwood and Chaime Marcuello-Servós, Liz Morrish, Elio Di Muccio). Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tsep20/33/4?nav=tocList

Discussion on the Special Issue in the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective:


Cruickshank, J. 2017 [Updated. First version published: 2013.] Entry for ‘Epistemology’, Oxford Online Bibliography In Sociology. L. Spillman (ed). Oxford University Press. [Peer reviewed; 12,700 words.] DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0036. Available at: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756384/obo-9780199756384-0036.xml

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

Discussion on ‘Democratic Problem-Solving’ in the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective’: https://social-epistemology.com/category/books-and-book-reviews/

Cruickshank, J. 2017. ‘Reflections on Problems, Politics and Knowledge: Replies to the Discussants of Democratic Problem-Solving’, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6 (12): 25-38. Available at:


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. 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.

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