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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 120, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, II$
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P. J. Marshall

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263020

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263020.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 31 July 2021

Tom Burns 1913–2001

Tom Burns 1913–2001

(p.41) (p.42) Tom Burns 1913–2001
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 120, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, II

Gianfranco Poggi

British Academy

Tom Burns had possessed extraordinary professional gifts as an observer and analyst of social life ‘on the ground’. He preferred practising sociology rather than debating its nature or justifying its existence. One might say that, throughout his career, he preferred being a practitioner of sociology to being an apologist for it. Tom's overall intellectual stance expressed a deep commitment to the moral values and the political priorities associated with the British labour tradition. He always wrote to a high literary standard, which reflected on the one hand his thorough familiarity with British and European literature, and on the other his keen sense for the social and moral significance of the way people express themselves verbally in ‘real life’. His accounts of organisational life devote a great deal of attention to local speech codes — the expressive and ritual aspects of the way in which people address each other in a variety of contexts.

Keywords:   sociologists, social life, British labour tradition, organizational life, speech codes, British literature, European literature

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