The first issue of Theory, Culture & Society appeared in 1982. Despite the inauspicious timing (the start of the Thatcherite cuts) and peripheral location (Teesside Polytechnic, in the North East of England, later to become the University of Teesside), TCS surprised many by not only surviving, but flourishing. From the very beginning the journal received a great deal of encouragement from people in many parts of the world, who understood and identified with its aims.
In its first phase at the University of Teesside in 1982, Mike Featherstone was founding editor and the initial editorial board was composed of: Josef Bleicher, Mike Featherstone, John Gibbins, Mike Hepworth, Roland Robertson, Brian Taylor, and Bryan S. Turner. In this period almost the various work in production, marketing and sales were carried out by Mike Featherstone and John Gibbins along with help from the administrative staff and students at the Centre for the Study of Adult Life at the University of Teesside. The journal became noted in the first volume for an interview with Anthony Giddens and a review symposium on his Critique of Historical Materialism Volume 1 in issue 1(2) and a special issue on Consumer Culture 1(3). In its early phase the editorial and production staff at Teesside struggled to produce 3 issues a year, but managed to develop a healthy level of subscriptions and burgeoning academic reputation. This was largely through the innovative special issues on French Social Theory, Consumer Culture and The Fate of Modernity, and special sections on Giddens, Goffman, Sport and Gender and other topics. The difficulties of running the journal editorially as well as coordinating production, design and marketing in the end made a move to an academic publisher inevitable. In 1987 Theory, Culture & Society moved to Sage Publications and regularly appeared four times a year.
Scott Lash and Roy Boyne became involved in the journal in the latter half of the 1980s and joined the editorial board in 1993. Vikki Bell, Norman Denzin, Rob Shields and Couze Venn became members of the editorial board in 1996. In 2005, Ryan Bishop, Nick Gane and John Phillips joined the board, and since 2010 Roger Burrows, Stuart Elden, Rosalind Gill, Thomas Kemple, Adrian Mackenzie and Tiziana Terranova have also become members. Mike Hepworth died in 2007.
The editorial offices were located in the TCS Centre in the Institute for Cultural Analysis at Nottingham Trent University between 1996 and 2011.
Since 2012, TCS has been based at Goldsmiths, University of London.