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Martin Shaw (born 30 June 1947 in Driffield, Yorkshire) is a British sociologist and academic. He is a research professor of international relations at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, emeritus professor of international relations and politics at Sussex University and a professorial fellow in international relations and human rights at Roehampton University.[1] He is best known for his sociological work on war, genocide and global politics.


Educated at Catholic grammar schools in Northern England (his father Roy Shaw and mother had converted to Catholicism), Shaw studied sociology at the London School of Economics, graduating in 1968. He was a member of the editorial board of the Catholic left-wing journal, Slant (1965–67), for which his first articles were written, but left the Catholic Church in 1967.

Academic careerEdit

In his Marxist period in the 1970s, Shaw published Marxism versus Sociology: A Guide to Reading[2] and Marxism and Social Science: The Roots of Social Science.[3] However, he developed a critique of Marxism, which he saw as incapable of fully analysing the problem of war, as he argued in Socialism and Militarism.[4] He pioneered a new sociology of war and militarism, in his edited volume, War, State and Society[5] and in Dialectics of War.[6] In the 1990s he published two studies in this area: Post-Military Society[7] and Civil Society and Media in Global Crises,[8] a study of British responses to the 1991 Gulf War.

Shaw also entered debates in international relations, with his co-edited book State and Society in International Relations (1991) and his books Global Society and International Relations[9] and Theory of the Global State: Globality as Unfinished Revolution.[10] He founded The Global Site (2000), a portal for critical writing on global politics, culture and society, which also became a significant forum for academic debate after 9/11.

In the 2000s, Shaw's research returned to questions of war, now extended into the field of genocide, with four books: War and Genocide,[11] The New Western Way of War: Risk-Transfer War and its Crisis in Iraq[12] What is Genocide?[13] and Genocide and International Relations.[14]

Shaw was appointed a lecturer in sociology at the University of Durham (1970–72) and was lecturer, senior lecturer and reader in sociology at the University of Hull (1972–94) before becoming professor of international and political sociology (1994). The following year Shaw moved to a chair of international relations and politics at the University of Sussex, where he became a research professor in 2008. He joined Roehampton University in 2010 and the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals in 2011. He was a Leverhulme Fellow in 2000 and an ESRC research fellow in 2004 and 2005.

Political viewsEdit

A member of the British Labour Party from his schooldays (1963–66), as a student Shaw was heavily involved in politics. In 1966 he joined the LSE Socialist Society and was involved in the student and anti-Vietnam War movements, joining International Socialism (IS), a British revolutionary socialist group in 1966. He was a vice-president of the LSE Students Union (1968–69) and a member of the national committee of IS (1968–73). At the beginning of 1977, he left the International Socialists, and wrote a critical history, "The Making of a Party?", in Socialist Register 1978. He briefly instigated an attempt to regroup dissident former members of IS, the International Socialist Alliance (1977–78) and was one of the leaders of Socialist Unity, which stood candidates in the British general election of 1979.

After this election brought Margaret Thatcher to power, Shaw rejoined the Labour Party (1979), of which he remained a member until 2016. He stood unsuccessfully as Labour candidate for Beverley at the 1987 general election. He was elected as an East Devon Alliance member of Devon County Council, representing Seaton and Colyton, in 2017.

Activities, commentary and researchEdit

He was active in European Nuclear Disarmament (1980–85) and a member of its national committee, as well as in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He criticised what he saw as the passivity of the political left in the face of the genocidal wars in Bosnia (1992–95) and Kosovo (1998–99). He continues his political commentary by writing for the website openDemocracy.[15]


  1. ^ "University of Roehampton". University of Roehampton.
  2. ^ London: Pluto, 1974
  3. ^ London: Pluto, 1975
  4. ^ Nottingham: Spokesman, 1981
  5. ^ Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1984
  6. ^ London: Pluto, 1988
  7. ^ Cambridge: Polity, 1991
  8. ^ London: Pinter, 1996
  9. ^ Cambridge: Polity, 1994
  10. ^ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000
  11. ^ Cambridge: Polity, 2003
  12. ^ Cambridge: Polity, 2005
  13. ^ Cambridge: Polity, 2007, Second Edition 2015
  14. ^ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013
  15. ^ openDemocracy: Martin Shaw

External linksEdit