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Peter Maurice Worsley (6 May 1924 – 15 March 2013) was a noted British sociologist and social anthropologist. He was a major figure in both anthropology and sociology, and is noted for introducing the term third world into English. He not only made theoretical and ethnographic contributions, but also was regarded as a key founding member of the New Left.[1][2]

Early life and education[]

Born in Birkenhead, Worsley started reading English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He served in the British Army as an officer in Africa and India. During this time he developed his interest in anthropology. After the war he worked on mass education in Tanganyika and then went to study under Max Gluckman at the University of Manchester. He received his PhD from the Australian National University in Canberra.[1][2]


He lectured in sociology at the University of Hull and then went on to become the first Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester in 1964.[1][2]


Winner of the Curl Bequest Prize (1955) of the Royal Anthropological Institute for The kinship system of the Tallensi: a revaluation (Published in JRAI 1956, pp. 37–75).[3]

Key works[]



Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Bottomore
President of the British Sociological Association
Succeeded by
Sheila Allen

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