Professor Ben Carrington is an internationally renowned British sociologist currently working in the United States of America. He is widely regarded as one the world’s leading scholars on the sociology of race and culture, especially in relation to popular culture and sport, and has given keynote talks on these topics in North America, the Caribbean and across much of Europe. In his research and teaching he uses post/colonial theory and critical race studies to better understand the role of culture in shaping identities and the sociological and political significance of popular culture in our everyday lives.
He was born in Woolwich, south London in the 1970s and grew up in Thamesmead, one of Europe’s largest council estates – dubbed at the time of its conception in the 1960s as a “town of the twenty-first century” – and the backdrop that is featured in Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian film “A Clockwork Orange”. After Charlton Athletic Football Club made a disastrous decision to not take him on as a professional footballer (a decision many experts believe may well have set Charlton back at least a decade), he stayed in education and went on to Loughborough University. His undergraduate dissertation explored the late 1980s/early 1990s house music, or “rave” scene, and sparked his interest in thinking seriously about the changing meanings and politics of popular culture. Encouraged by his mentor, the leisure policy theorist Professor Ian Henry, to continue his studies, Ben Carrington applied to the graduate program at the Carnegie School at Leeds Metropolitan University. At Leeds he was supervised by the leading leisure studies experts Professor Sheila Scraton and Dr. Peter Bramham where he completed his PhD on the role of sport as a form of cultural politics within black communities.
After leaving Leeds, Ben Carrington taught the sociology of sport, popular culture and race at Brighton University from 1997 until 2004 when he left England to take up a position in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin where he has worked ever since. Outside of the Sociology Department at UT Austin, Ben Carrington remains actively engaged with a range of intellectual spaces, including the Center for European Studies, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. He holds a courtesy appointment with the African and African Diaspora Studies Department and is also a Carnegie Research Fellow at Leeds Metropolitan University.
One right-wing website once noted that Ben Carrington “is a typical academic that inserts two parts race and one part gender into every issue with a twist of Marx”, a description he quite likes. Despite retiring from semi-professional football when he left England, after a modestly successful career playing for the likes of Farsley Celtic and Guiseley in the north and a long spell at Worthing FC in the south, Ben Carrington can still be found tormenting defenses (and referees) for Waterloo FC on the pitches in and around Austin. Though not quite at the same pace that he used to.