He gained his BA in Economics from the University of Cambridge (MA 1970) and his Doctorate at the University of Amsterdam. He was a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow (1966–67) at Harvard University. After returning from America, he taught at the University of Exeter, England, from 1967 to 1990, when he became Professor of Sociology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Monash University in Australia, before returning to Europe as Professor at UCD (Ireland's largest university) in 1993. . At UCD, along with his wife Barbara, he founded UCD Press on behalf of the university, and he also served as first Director (1999-2002) of what is now the Geary Institute, a new social scientific research institute established with Irish government support.
Stephen Mennell's major intellectual influence is Norbert Elias, and he is now a member of the Board of the Norbert Elias Foundation, Amsterdam - in effect one of Elias's executors. He is General Editor of the Collected Works of Norbert Elias in English, which are being published in 18 volumes by UCD Press.
Elias's influence is especially evident in Mennell's landmark book All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present (1985), and in The American Civilizing Process (2007). His other books include Sociological Theory: Uses and Unities (1974; rev. edn 1980), Alexis de Tocqueville on Democracy, Revolution and Society (edited with John Stone, 1980), and two selections of Elias's writings edited with Johan Goudsblom. He is member of the editorial board of the journal Food & History. A full list of his publications can be found at www.stephenmennell.eu
Stephen Mennell was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Cambridge in 2004, and elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in the same year. In 2009 he was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.
- "Seminar highlights concerns about food, eating and indigestion". News-Medical.Net. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- "Talk About a Fork in the Road; How and Why Did the French Make an Art of Cuisine While England Descended to Bangers and 'Chip Butty'?". The New York Times. 9 May 1998. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- "History a la carte". The New York Times. 16 March 1986. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- "Stephen Mennell". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- "Members list". Royal Irish Academy. Archived from the original on 18 November 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
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