Eric Dunning was a pioneer in the sociology of sport and the founder, with Patrick Murphy and John Williams, of the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research. He is the author of a number of books and articles on sport and the figurational sociology of Norbert Elias. Although now officially retired, Dunning remains an Emeritus Professor of the University of Leicester as well as a Visiting Professor at the Chester Centre for Research into Sport and Society. Dunning is also a member of the editorial board of the Jornal de Ciências do Exercicio e Esporte, Paraná Federal University, Brazil.
Dunning has edited and co-authored numerous books in the sociology of sport. In 1999 he published his first sole-authored book, Sport Matters. In October 2000, he co-edited the comprehensive Handbook of Sports Studies with Jay Coakley. His book about Norbert Elias, Norbert Elias and Modern Sociology is based partly on Dunning's personal experience working with Elias for more than three decades. The book, co-authored with Jason Hughes, was published in 2012.
- sociological theory, especially the functional sociology and theory of civilizing processes of Norbert Elias and its place within the wider field of classical and modern sociology
- the sociology of sport and leisure
- problems of violence and civilization, especially sports-related violence such as football hooliganism
- the use of Elias's theory in understanding the Holocaust and genocide more generally
- 'Sport Matters: Sociological Studies of Sport, Violence and Civilization'. (1999)
- 'Fighting Fans: Football Hooliganism as a World Phenomenon'.
- 'Norbert Elias: Sage Masters of Modern Social Thought'. (2003)
- 'Sport: Critical Concepts in Sociology'. (2003)
- 'The Roots of Football Hooliganism, an historical and sociological study'. (1988)
- Dunning's faculty page at the University of Leicester website. Web accessed July 2013.