May 9 2023

In memory of Stephen Hill (1946-2023)

Black and white photo of Stephen HillStephen Hill, a distinguished and long-standing member of the School, died on the 18 April. He was a member of a rather special and cohesive cohort of gifted Oxford and Cambridge graduates who elected in the late 1960s and early 1970s to enter the LSE to convert to Sociology at a time of its high fashionableness, adding to his Oxford degree in Modern History an MSc. (Sociology) and a PhD on the social organisation of the London dockers, being especially interested in what was known as ‘the Lump’ (i.e., casual work for cash). The subsequent dissertation, The Dockers: Class and Tradition in London, was published in 1976 by Heinemann Educational. 

Stephen Hill’s first academic post was to be in the Sociology Department of Bedford College, then a college of the University of London. He then returned to the LSE, first as a Lecturer in Industrial Relations in 1971 before moving to the Department of Sociology where he rose smoothly through the ranks to become a Professor of Sociology in 1991. He later took on the role of Professor of Management in the fledgling Interdisciplinary Institute of Management in 2001. But he had also embarked on what was something of a parallel career when he became the convenor of the Sociology Department, Pro-Director between 1996 and 2001, and acting Director in 2001, laying a foundation for his final post as the Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, between 2002 and 2009.  

He was ever a physically restless, energetic and prodigiously industrious man, striding up and down the fells in Borrowdale that adjoined his much-loved family holiday home in Rosthwaite and sailing on the local lakes; and playing a multitude of parts in, say, the LSE Foundation; Southern Universities Management Services, a charitable organisation; the Court of City University; the Council of George’s, University of London; the editorship of the British Journal Sociology; and, after his retirement, Citizens Advice Richmond. And all the while his academic work continued. With Nick Abercrombie (a childhood friend) and Bryan Tuner, he published The Dominant Ideology Thesis in 1980 and, following the success of this book, helped deliver an influential sequel entitled Sovereign Individuals of Capitalism in 1986. Meanwhile his Competition and Control at Work (1981) contributed to the revival of the then moribund field of industrial sociology. Always an enthusiastic collaborator, he worked with another old friend Rod Martin on emerging industrial relations in eastern Europe before embarking on the ESRC funded research that led to Managing to Change? in 2004 and Market, Class, and Employment in 2007. Much of that work was the result of gargantuan effort, the fruits of collaboration with, amongst others, Michael White, Pat McGovern and Colin Mills, colleagues who speak of him with admiration, not only for his scholarship but also for his boundless sources of energy and motivation. Even as a busy Pro-Director, he was always generous with his time, especially with younger colleagues for whom he was frequently a source of wise career advice.  

Stephen Hill was married twice and leaves a son and a daughter, Martin and Anna, who returned from the ends of the earth to organise and attend his funeral in south-west London on the 27 April.  

Tribute written by Paul Rock and Pat McGovern 

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1 Response to In memory of Stephen Hill (1946-2023)

  1. Gus Stewart says:

    Steve was a great academic colleague and Pro-Director over the years I knew him, latterly as head of the Research Division. Full of ideas and enthusiasm, he was fun and creative to work with and we enjoyed a pint or two many times after work to review the pressing matters of the day. My condolences to his family and all those colleague close to him.

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