Mike Featherstone pays tribute to David Frisby

Mike Featherstone pays tribute to David Frisby, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, who died just over a week ago.

Photo: David Frisby 26th March 1944 – 20th November 2010

I first met David at the BSA Theory Group in Leeds circa 1970-2 when he did a paper on Habermas and Critical Theory which was way ahead of other English work in this area. This was important in developing the strong German theory influences which became an important stream into early TCS.

Roland Robertson reviewed his Sociological Impression in our first issue. He produced one of our best early papers for the influential Fate of Modernity issue in 1985 – his piece on ‘Georg Simmel – First Sociologist of Modernity,’ which was very important in getting Simmel into the modern/postmodern debates and central to the development of TCS interest in Simmel.

He was great to work with – we had a lot of fun putting together the TCS 1991 Simmel issue – he found all the art nouveau/Jugenstil illustrations which we used on the cover and dotted through the text. I guess it’s one of the issues I’m most proud of. He also did a lot of the Simmel translations in the early years.

Simmel on Culture was also a book which wasn’t easy to get through Sage, but we were committed to it and it has been well received. We’d planned a second volume, Simmel on Art and Literature, but just never got around to it.

He was good company and great to spend an evening with – what the Japanese admiringly call ‘a good drinker’ who could maintain his modesty and equanimity throughout.

We’re going to miss the big man a lot…


  1. David was perhaps the foremost scholar among sociological theorists. His impeccable schklteship on the Foreword to Simmel’s Money stands out. His Fragments of Modernity was hugely original. A singular book that influenced especially me but all of us. His aprecus on for example, Jugendstil, arts and crafts and design in the German speaking world were unmatched.

    He will be sorely missed.

    Scott Lash (Goldsmiths College)

  2. I was very saddened to hear the news about David Frisby. I had the pleasure of meeting him during a trip to the University of Glasgow to meet with the editorial team of Urban Studies, a journal also published by SAGE.

    Even in the short time I spent in his company, I saw that he was both a true gentleman and warm-hearted, welcoming man.

    I know that he will be sorely missed by many.

    Naomi Blumsom
    (SAGE Publications)

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