Ellis Cashmore is visiting professor of sociology at Aston. He was formerly a professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, which he joined in 1993. Before this, he was professor of sociology at the University of Tampa, Florida; and, before this, lecturer in sociology at the University of Hong Kong. Cashmore’s Elizabeth Taylor: A Private Life for Public Consumption is published by Bloomsbury. Among his other recent books are Beyond Black: Celebrity and race in Obama’s America, and Martin Scorsese’s America.His Celebrity/Culture is in its second edition.
Cashmore worked for five years in a variety of occupations before studying for his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic (now Northumbria University). In that period, he worked as a driver, hod-carrier, waiter, restaurant manager and many other occupations besides. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he moved to the University of Toronto, where he studied for his master’s, again in sociology. Returning to England, Cashmore pursued doctoral research at the London School of Economics and Political Science; his PhD thesis centred on the rastafari movement in England. This became the focus of his first book Rastaman, which was published in 1979 and has recently been republished by Routledge.
Cashmore’s first fulltime academic position was at Aston University, where he was a research fellow and, later, a senior research fellow, heading up a largescale project investigating racism in the West Midlands. The study was published in book form as The Logic of Racism. During this period, his main focus was race and ethnic relations, though he also wrote a textbook entitled Approaching Social Theory and a study of single parent families, Having To. He was contracted for six months to the Research Unit on Ethnic Relations (now based at Warwick University) to conduct research into racism among young people. The results of this were published in his book No Future.
In 1985, Cashmore accepted a visiting professorship at the University of Washington in Seattle and, shortly after his return, he was offered a position in Asia. Moving to theUniversity of Hong Kong’s Department of Sociology in 1986, Cashmore broadened his interests further and wrote the book United Kingdom? Race, class and gender since the war. He also began work on a project which was to become the sports science textMaking Sense of Sports.
In 1989, Cashmore moved to the USA to take up a professorial appointment at the University of Tampa. Working at distance with his colleague from Hong Kong, Eugene McLaughlin (now professor of criminology at Southampton University), Cashmore produced Out of Order? Policing black people, which addressed the vexed relationship between ethnic minorities and the police in Britain and the United States. He also conducted research with his colleague (then student) Amy Kornblau (now at Florida Atlantic University) into female bodybuilders. His continuing interest in ethnic relations was reflected in his research into Britain’s emerging “black bourgeoisie.”
His most significant book in this period was … and there was telev!s!ion, which mapped out the growth, significance and impact of television. The book was based on his observations and research in the USA, but has relevance for the United Kingdom too. The book signalled Cashmore’s widening interest in the media and the culture it has helped create.
His book The Black Culture Industry pulled together many of these interests: in this book, Cashmore analyzed how black culture has been created as a commodity that is bought and sold like any other type of merchandise.