David Mellor

David Mellor



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Personal profile

Research interests

Social theory

Continental and analytic philosophy 




BA (York) MA (Lond) PhD (Card) DPhil (Oxon)


I'm a sociologist and philosopher.

My work is about questions that I put into two categories:

Category 1 questions take up most of my time:

  • What is society?
  • What are persons?
  • What should we do?

Category 2 questions are really sub-questions of category 1, and at the moment I'm most interested in these:

  • What is the relationship between natural and social reality?
  • What is technology?
  • What is the future?

As you can see, I'm as interested in questions about what things are as much as I am in how they relate to or interact with other things. I suppose I'm as interested in being as I am in meaning. I don't shy away from ontology or metaphysics, as these tend to be concerned with the things that really matter to us and to human existence in general.

My current research is about technologies and human life, particularly how contemporary technological objects and systems are fundamentally re-tooling our social spaces and everyday lives. This includes artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, and digital data and media, where my focus in on the ethical and social consequences of these emergent technologies.

I am currently working on two book projects. The first is about robots and social life, which looks at the fictional, ethical, philosophical, and applied aspects of robots and their likely introduction across many areas of society: something much desired by governments and corporations around the world. This is under contract with Routledge and should be out in 2022.

The second is a more loosly defined writing project about how ‘speculative earths’ – that is, imagined versions of our planet – are central and contested features in our understanding of the contemporary human condition, especially concerning sustainability, technology, energy, culture, and anticipations of the future.


I am the course leader for the BSc Sociology in the Faculty of Creative Industries. I teach across several modules on the course and provide tutorial and dissertation supervision to undergraduate and masters level students. I welcome PhD applicants on topics that relate to my research interests.


I joined USW in December 2016 while completing a doctorate in Philosophy and Technology at Keble College, University of Oxford. I also hold a PhD in Sociology from Cardiff University, where I was an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow. I previously worked as a Senior Manager in Research Resources for the Economic and Social Research Council (2012-13) and have researched and taught at a number of other universities, including the Open University, Bristol University and Leeds University.


I'm an expert in technological innovation for the Communications Networks, Content and Technology Unit, in the European Commission.

I'm a member of the British Sociological Association. 

Teaching interests

Course Leader BSc Sociology
Questioning Everyday Life
Classical Sociological Theory
Contemporary Social Theory 

Research interests

EPSRC funded DPhil ‘Cybersecurity anthropotechnics’ 2013-2018, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford


Social and ethical implications of technological development, particularly AI and robotics
Responsible research and innovation
Politics, policies, and orientations towards the future
Science fiction and the technological imagination

Other Interests


Cats and dogs

The ordinary tragedy of being born and our struggle with finitude and meaninglessness

Education/Academic qualification

Philosophy of Technology, DPhil, University of Oxford


Philosophy, MA, Open University, The

2020 → …

Sociology, PhD, Cardiff University

Social Research, MA, Goldsmiths, University of London

Sociology, BA, University of York

External positions

Visiting lecturer in Cross-Disciplinary Research Methods, CDT Cyber Security, University of Oxford

Human Centred Computing Theme, University of Oxford


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