Policy Press


Jun 29, 2020

Obituary: David Morgan

A message from Vanessa May and Sue Heath, on behalf of the Morgan Centre, University of Manchester. David was the author of Snobbery, part of the British Sociological Association 21st Century Standpoints series.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the death of David Morgan, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, on 17 June 2020, after having been ill with cancer for only a very short time.

During a career spanning over six decades, David Morgan had a major influence on sociology. Many of David’s publications on families and masculinities remain landmark works that helped shape and transform these fields of study. David is perhaps best known for launching the ‘family practices’ approach in Family Connections (1996). In his later work, he explored hitherto under-researched areas of everyday life, such as Acquaintances (2009) and Snobbery (2018). A defining characteristic of his work is that it addresses issues and topics that resonate with the everyday experiences of a wide range of people, and does so in a way that allows for new sociological insights into seemingly mundane facets of life.

David was a key figure in the British sociological community. He was one of the original staff members of the Department of Sociology at the University of Manchester when it was founded in 1964. He acted as President of the British Sociological Association (BSA), editor of Sociology, co-editor of the Palgrave ‘Studies in Family Sociology’ book series, and Open Space editor on the journal Families, Relationships and Societies. He was known by generations of sociologists for his extraordinarily generous collegiality. In his inimitable style that combined a keen sense of humour and kindness, he mentored and supported numerous colleagues at various stages of their career. In 2016, David was awarded the BSA’s Distinguished Service to British Sociology Award.

In 2005, in recognition of David’s standing as one of the foremost sociologists in the fields of families, relationships, personal life and everyday lives, the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives at the University of Manchester was named after him. He was among a select group of scholars to have a centre named after them during their lifetime, a fact that attests to the exceptional nature of his body of work. David played a central role in the Centre from the beginning, and engaged in Centre activities until his death. We will treasure our memories of him as a warm and supportive colleague whose character and scholarship helped shape the intellectual and collegiate atmosphere of the Centre.

In the near future, the Morgan Centre will host a tributes page on our website, to which colleagues near and far can contribute their memories and thoughts of David. In due course, we will also organise a commemorative event to pay tribute to David’s life and work.

David’s death is an immeasurable loss to his family, friends, colleagues and to sociology as a discipline, and we know many of you will be personally saddened by the news. If you would like to send your thoughts and wishes to Janet, and to David’s family, please do send them to Vanessa May (vanessa.may@manchester.ac.uk), Sue Heath (sue.heath@manchester.ac.uk) or Jennifer Mason (jennifer.mason@manchester.ac.uk), and we will pass these on."