Eric Dunning was a pioneer in the sociology of sport and the founder, with Patrick Murphy, of the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research. He is the author of a number of books and articles on sport and the figurational sociology of Norbert Elias. Although now officially retired, Dunning remains an Emeritus Professor of the University of Leicester as well as a Visiting Professor at the Chester Centre for Research into Sport and Society. Dunning has edited and co-authored numerous books in the sociology of sport and in 1999 he published his first sole-authored book, Sport Matters. In October 2000, he co-edited the comprehensive Handbook of Sports Studies with Jay Coakley. He has two forthcoming books on Anthony Giddens (London/Routledge) and Norbert Elias (Cambridge/Polity). Dunning is also a member of the editorial board of the Jornal de Ciências do Exercicio e Esporte, Paraná Federal University, Brazil.
Sociological theory, especially figurational sociology and theory of civilizing processes of Norbert Elias and its place within the wider field of classical and modern sociology;
The sociology of sport and leisure;
Problems of violence and civilization, especially sports-related violence, including football hooliganism, and the use of Elias's theory in understanding the Holocaust and genocide more generally.