The BSA’s 2023 Distinguished Service to British Sociology Award has been given to John Brewer, emeritus professor at Queen’s University Belfast and an expert on crime, policing, peace processes and research methods.

The award is judged on service to British sociology and awarded to the outstanding individual who has contributed most to the discipline by leading an extraordinary life as a sociologist.

Professor Brewer grew up in Shropshire and was educated at the Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham. He has worked at the University of East Anglia and at the University of Aberdeen, where he was Head of Department, and Queen’s, where he was Head of the School of Sociology.

He is author of 16 books, including C Wright Mills and the Ending of Violence (Palgrave 2003), Peace Processes: A Sociological Approach (Polity Press, 2010), Religion, Civil Society and Peace in Northern Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2011, 2013), Ex-Combatants, Religion and Peace in Northern Ireland (Palgrave, 2013) and The Public Value of Social Sciences (Bloomsbury, 2013).

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, as well as a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He was Chair of the British Sociological Association from 2004–2006, and President from 2009–2012.

In a feature in the BSA’s magazine, Network, he wrote of one book that influenced his career: “I still have the dog-eared copy of Ronnie Frankenberg’s edited collection, Communities in Britain, that I bought as an A-level student when it was reprinted by Penguin in 1969, with my aspiring sociologist’s underlining and scribbles in the margins. The scribbles are an auto-ethnography.

“I liked it so much because from the beginning it grounded sociology for me as the study of real life, enabling me to make sense of the rural community in which I lived and the miners who travelled to a neighbouring colliery, the pit that killed, young, both my father and his father.”

On receiving the award, Professor Brewer (left) said,

I am thoroughly delighted to receive this award. I have enormous respect for the BSA and I consider my service to the Association as a highlight of my career.