Frank Furedi

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Frank Furedi
Füredi Ferenc

(1947-05-03) 3 May 1947 (age 77)
Budapest, Hungary[1]
SpouseAnn Furedi
Academic background
ThesisThe Mau Mau Revolt in Perspective: The Betrayal of a Dream (1987)
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Kent
Notable studentsMunira Mirza

Frank Furedi (Hungarian: Füredi Ferenc; born 3 May 1947)[2] is a Hungarian-Canadian academic and emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent. He is well known for his work on sociology of fear, education, therapy culture, paranoid parenting and sociology of knowledge.

Early life and education[edit]

Furedi's family emigrated from Hungary to Canada after the failed 1956 uprising, and he did his bachelor's degree in international relations at McGill University in Montreal.[1] He has lived in Britain since 1969, most recently in Faversham. He completed his MA in African politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies,[3][non-primary source needed] and received his PhD from the University of Kent in 1987 with a thesis on the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya.[4][5][2]

He is married to Ann Furedi.[6]: 71 

RCP and offshoots[edit]

A former student radical, he became involved in left-wing politics in Britain in the 1970s; in particular, as a member of the International Socialists (IS), under the pseudonym Frank Richards. With his followers, he was expelled from the IS in 1973 and formed the Revolutionary Communist Group, and then broke from that in 1976 to form the Revolutionary Communist Tendency, refounded as the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1978.[7]

The RCP was distinguished by its contrarianism, commitment to theoretical elaboration and hostility to state intervention in social life. Among its positions were support for the IRA and Saddam Hussein.[7]

In December 1990, the RCP's magazine Living Marxism ran an article by Furedi, entitled "Midnight in the Century", which argued that the corrosive effect of the collapse of both Stalinism and reformism on the working class meant that "for the time being at least, the working class has no political existence".[8] This signalled a re-orientation of the party towards more libertarian positions, and its formal dissolution by the end of the decade.

Furedi now is associated with the RCP's successor, the web site Spiked Online.[citation needed]

Academic career[edit]

Furedi's academic work was initially devoted to a study of imperialism and race relations. His books on the subject include The Mau Mau War in Perspective, The New Ideology of Imperialism and The Silent War: Imperialism and the Changing Perception of Race. In recent years his work has been oriented towards exploring the sociology of risk and low expectations. Furedi is author of several books on this topic, most recently Wasted: Why Education Isn't Educating (Continuum 2009) and Invitation to Terror: The Expanding Empire of the Unknown (Continuum 2007), an analysis of the impact of terrorism post 9/11. His more recent publications, On Tolerance: A Defence of Moral Independence (Continuum 2011) and Authority: A Sociological Introduction (Cambridge University Press) deal with the inter-related problem of freedom and authority.

He was, according to research from 2005,[9] the most widely cited sociologist in the UK press. Furedi frequently appears in the media, expressing his view that Western societies have become obsessed with risk. He writes regularly for Spiked. He has also written several books on the subject of risk, offering a counterpoint to the analyses of Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck, including Paranoid Parenting, Therapy Culture, and Culture of Fear.

Notable PhD students he has supervised include Munira Mirza.[10][6]: 66 

In November 2021, Furedi assumed the post of director of the MCC Brussels centre, an offshoot of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium funded by the ruling Hungarian Fidesz party,[11] citing the need for an alternative to mainstream pro-European think-thanks.[12]

In May 2023, Furedi spoke at the National Conservatism Conference in London on the topic "The War Against National Belonging".[13]


In the 1990s he was actively involved in humanist-focused issues, especially campaigns for free speech.[citation needed] Furedi maintains that society and universities are undergoing a politically driven 'dumbing down' process which is manifest in society's growing inability to understand and assess the meaning of risk. The rise of the environmental and green movements parallels society's growing obsession with risk. Furedi also attacks the scientific consensus on global warming,[14] and has criticised the prominent role played by science in policy formation.[15][non-primary source needed]

In 2008 he criticised opponents of American vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the Spiked website.[16] He claims: "It seems that even fervent advocates of women’s rights will adopt outdated and chauvinistic moral rhetoric when targeting a woman they do not like."[non-primary source needed]

In 2008 he co-authored a book with Jennie Bristow published by the think tank Civitas titled Licensed to Hug: How Child Protection Policies Are Poisoning the Relationship Between the Generations and Damaging the Voluntary Sector, arguing that the growth of police vetting (see Criminal Records Bureau) has created a sense of mistrust and advocating a more common-sense approach to adult/child relations, based on the assumption that the vast majority of adults can be relied on to help and support children, and that the healthy interaction between generations enriches children's lives.[citation needed]



The philosopher Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock wrote in 2011 that Furedi is "to be respected in the strongest sense, indeed greatly admired" for his exposure of hypocrisy and intolerance in contemporary culture.[17]

In reviewing Furedi's Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone? for The Times in 2004, the traditional conservative philosopher and writer Roger Scruton said:

For Furedi the growing contempt for objective truth and transmissible knowledge is the sign of a deeper malaise within society – a loss of trust in rational thought and a flight towards "social inclusion", where this means, in effect, mob rule. The philistinism of educational theory, the take-over of the humanities by the "postmodern" charlatans, the loss of respect for science, and the growing tendency to put "relevance" at the heart of the curriculum – all these are signs, for Furedi, of a fundamental repudiation of knowledge. And this explains the vanishing of the intellectuals.[18]


Critics of Furedi are drawn from a wide spectrum of left and progressive opinion who criticise as cultish and reactionary the organizations in which he has been a leading figure. Furedi's views on race have been described as a "colourblind racism".[19] George Monbiot has accused Furedi of overseeing extreme right-wing libertarian campaigns "against gun control, against banning tobacco advertising and child pornography, and in favour of global warming, human cloning and freedom for corporations". Monbiot has also accused him of leading entryism of ex-RCPers into "key roles in the formal infrastructure of public communication used by the science and medical establishment", to pursue an agenda in favour of genetic engineering.[20] The journalist Nick Cohen has described the RCP as a "weird cult"[21] whose Leninist discipline, disruptive behaviour and selfish publicity-seeking have remained unaltered during the various tactical shifts in the face it presents to the wider world.[22]


  • The Soviet Union Demystified: A Materialist Analysis, Junius Publications, 1986, ISBN 0948392037
  • The Mau Mau War in Perspective, James Currey Publishers, 1989
  • Mythical Past, Elusive Future: History and Society in an Anxious Age, Pluto Press, 1991
  • The New Ideology of Imperialism: Renewing the Moral Imperative, Pluto Press, 1994
  • Colonial Wars and the Politics of Third World Nationalism, IB Tauris, 1994
  • Culture of Fear: Risk Taking and the Morality of Low Expectation, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997, ISBN 030433751X. 2nd edition: 2002, ISBN 0826459293
  • Population and Development: A Critical Introduction, Palgrave Macmillan, 1997
  • The Silent War: Imperialism and the Changing Perception of Race, Pluto Press, 1998
  • Courting Mistrust: The Hidden Growth of a Culture of Litigation in Britain, Centre for Policy Studies, 1999
  • Paranoid Parenting: Abandon Your Anxieties and Be a Good Parent, Allen Lane, 2001
  • Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age, Routledge, 2003
  • Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting Twenty-First Century Philistinism, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004
  • The Politics of Fear. Beyond Left and Right, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 0826487289
  • Invitation to Terror: The Expanding Empire of the Unknown, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007, ISBN 0826499570
  • Licensed to Hug: How Child Protection Policies Are Poisoning the Relationship Between the Generations and Damaging the Voluntary Sector with Jennie Bristow, Civitas, 2008, ISBN 1903386705. 2nd Revised edition: 2010, ISBN 1906837163, 978-1-903386-70-5
  • Wasted: Why Education Isn't Educating, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009
  • On Tolerance: The Life Style Wars: A Defence of Moral Independence, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2011, ISBN 1441120106
  • Authority: A Sociological Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 2013
  • Moral Crusades in an Age of Mistrust: The Jimmy Savile Scandal, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, ISBN 1137338016
  • First World War: Still No End in Sight, Bloomsbury USA, 2014, ISBN 1441125108
  • Power of Reading: From Socrates to Twitter, Bloomsbury, 2015, ISBN 1472914775
  • Populism and the European Culture Wars: The Conflict of Values between Hungary and the EU, Routledge, 2017, ISBN 1138097438
  • How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century, Bloomsbury, 2018, ISBN 9781472972897
  • Why Borders Matter: Why Humanity Must Relearn the Art of Drawing Boundaries, Routledge, 2020, ISBN 0367416824
  • 100 Years of Identity Crisis: Culture War Over Socialisation, de Gruyter, 2021, ISBN 9783110708936


  1. ^ a b "Frank Furedi: Five things I have learned". BBC News. 26 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b Turner, Jenny (8 July 2010). "Who Are They?: Jenny Turner reports from the Battle of Ideas". London Review of Books. 32 (13): 3–8, 5. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  3. ^ Curriculum Vitae Archived 2010-07-15 at the Wayback Machine, University of Kent website
  4. ^ Beckett, Ian (1992). "University, Doctoral and Research Theses on British Military History". Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. 70 (281): 46–50. JSTOR 44225703.
  5. ^ Siler, Michael J. (2004). Strategic Security Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. p. 670. ISBN 0-313-32025-X.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Morgan (2022). "Culture war 'Marxism': The Revolutionary Communist Party diaspora and the Conservative Party". Renewal. 30 (2): 65–73.
  7. ^ a b "Licence to rile". the Guardian. 15 May 1999. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  8. ^ Frank Furedi (as Frank Richards). "Midnight in the Century", Living Marxism, December 1990
  9. ^ Gaber, Annaliza (30 September 2005). "Media Coverage of Sociology".
  10. ^ Fletcher, Martin (30 September 2020). "Munira Mirza: the former radical leftist advising Boris Johnson". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 29 December 2022. After earning a first from Oxford Mirza studied for a PhD in sociology under Furedi's supervision at Kent.
  11. ^ Preussen, Wilhelmine (1 November 2022). "Viktor Orbán-funded think tank vows to shake up Brussels". Politico Europe.
  12. ^ Furedi, Frank (1 November 2022). "Brussels needs a Hungarian think tank". Politico Europe.
  13. ^ "Frank Furedi". National Conservatism Conference, UK 2023. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  14. ^ Furedi, Frank (27 December 2007). "In 2008, let us challenge the Politics of Apocalypse". Spiked. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016.
  15. ^ Furedi, Frank (15 January 2008). "The tyranny of science". Spiked. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016.
  16. ^ Frank Furedi "Turning Sarah Palin into a twenty-first century witch", Spiked, 8 September 2008.
  17. ^ "Review: On Tolerance: A War of Moral Independence, Times Higher Education, 29 September 2011 (subscription required)
  18. ^ Scruton, Roger (4 September 2004). "Dumb and dumber". The Times. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  19. ^ Benjamin Doxtdator, "Spiked's colorblind racism", 30 July 2018
  20. ^ "Invasion of the entryists", The Guardian, 9 December 2003
  21. ^ "Nick Cohen vs the Institute of Ideas", New Humanist, November/December 2006
  22. ^ "Wireless: Long March to the Microphone" Archived 23 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Standpoint, July/August 2010

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