Stuart Corbridge is now a silver-haired Professor of International Development at the LSE (below left), but I still think of him as an intense, clench-fisted firebrand (below right) whose style I tried and failed to emulate when I started lecturing. (It took me a while to find a style I’m comfortable with – more relaxed, more humourous, not so stern.)
I still remember Corbridge’s presence, the inspiring way he lectured. I don’t remember him influencing my ideas as much. He did, I think, try to warn me away from methodological individualism, by linking it to Margaret Thatcher’s ‘no such thing as society’ comment. I loathed Thatcher and felt less keen on methodological individualism for a while. Eventually, though, I saw that I could accept methodological individualism without endorsing Thatcher.
Ultimately, Corbridge’s main influence on me was as a role model. Some young men wanted to be James Bond; I wanted to be Stuart Corbridge. And now I am, except with more jokes, less fist-clenching, and no such thing as society.