Prof. SMITH, William James Clark Department of Government and Public Administration - CUHK

Prof. SMITH William James Clark

Associate Professor
BA (Univ. of East Anglia), MA, PhD (Univ. of Warwick)

William Smith graduated with a BA (First Class Hons.) in English Studies from the University of East Anglia (UK). After a brief stint working for a law firm in London, he carried out all of his postgraduate education at the University of Warwick (UK). He achieved an MA (with Distinction) in Politics, before successfully completing his PhD on the philosophy of civil disobedience under the supervision of Professor Susan Hurley (Politics) and Professor Robert Fine (Sociology). Prior to taking up his current position at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he worked as a lecturer at the University of Warwick and the University of Dundee (UK). In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his young family, listening to test match cricket and revisiting his childhood love of Doctor Who.

Grants/awards Publications Research interests
Teaching interests    
prof smith william
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  Research interests:
  • Contemporary Political Theory
  • Civil Disobedience
  • Political Activism
  • Deliberative Democracy
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Theories of Global Governance, and the Political Philosophies of John Rawls
  • Jürgen Habermas and Hannah Arendt.

Teaching interests:

  • The Idea of Freedom
  • Understanding Human Rights
  • Ethics and International Affairs
  • ‘Democratic Disruptions: Towards a Deliberative Theory of Direct Action’, RGC Ref. No. CUHK14409814, Research Grants Council (RGC), General Research Fund (GRF), 2014-15, Budget: $296,850.
  • ‘International Partnerships Development Programme’, (OAL, CUHK), 2014-15
  • ‘Research Excellence Award’, (CUHK), 2013-14
  • ‘Law Interrupted: A Study of Legislative Disruption in Hong Kong’, Direct Grant (CUHK), 2012-13, Budget: $35,000.

Civil Disobedience and Deliberative Democracy (London: Routledge, 2013). Reviewed in: Constellations, Criminal Law and Philosophy, and Political Studies Review.


‘Resisting Injustice: Arendt on Civil Disobedience and the Social Contract’, in K. Hiruta (Ed.) Arendt on Freedom, Liberation, and Revolution, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), pp. 115-138 (with Shiyu Zhang).


‘Biofuels and the Ethics of Global Governance: Experimentalism, Disagreement, Politics’, in B. J. Steele and E. A. Heinze (Eds) Routledge Handbook of Ethics and International Relations, (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 476-493 (with J. Brassett and B. Richardson).


‘Transnational and Global Deliberation’. André Bächtiger, John S. Dryzek, Jane Mansbridge, and Mark E. Warren (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)


‘Civil Disobedience’. Fathali M. Moghaddam (ed.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior (London: Sage, 2017), pp. 95-98


‘The Cosmopolitan Turn: Beyond Realism and Statism in Charles R. Beitz’s Political Theory and International Relations’, in H. Bliddal, C. Sylvest, and P. Wilson (eds.) Classics of International Relations: Essays in Criticism and Appreciation, (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 167-76.


‘Deliberation Without Democracy? Reflections on Habermas, Mini-Publics and China’, in T. Bailey (ed.) Deprovincializing Habermas: Global Perspectives, (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 96-114.


‘A Constitutional Niche for Civil Disobedience? Reflections on Arendt’ in M. Goldoni and C. McCorkindale (eds.) Hannah Arendt and the Law, (Oxford: Hart, 2012), pp.133-50.


‘The Transformation of Political Community and Conceptions of Global Citizenship’ in P. Hayden (ed.) Ashgate Research Companion to Ethics and International Relations, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 461-77.


‘Cosmopolitanism and Military Intervention’ in C. Hughes and R. Devetak (eds.) The Globalization of Political Violence: Globalization’s Shadow (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 46-68 (with Robert Fine).

‘Deliberation in an Age of (Un)Civil Resistance’, Journal of Deliberative Democracy, 16:1 (2020), pp. 14–19.

‘Deliberative Citizenship: A Critical Reappraisal’, Citizenship Studies, 23:8 (2019), pp. 815-830.

‘Policing, Protest and Rights’, Public Affairs Quarterly, 32:3 (2018), 185-203.

‘Disrupting Democracy: The Ethics of Direct Action’, Raisons Politiques: Etudes de Pensée Politique, 69:1 (2018), pp. 13-27.

‘Civil Disobedience as Transnational Disruption’, Global Constitutionalism: Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, 6:3 (2017), pp. 477-504

‘The Burdens of Conviction: Brownlee on Civil Disobedience’, Criminal Law and Philosophy, 10:4 (2016), pp. 693-706.

‘The Boundaries of a Deliberative System: The Case of Disruptive Protest’, Critical Policy Studies, 10:2 (2016), pp. 152-170.

‘Law and (Global) Order: Towards a Theory of Cosmopolitan Policing’, Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory, 17:1
(2016), pp. 135-148.

‘The Morality of Border Crossing’, Contemporary Political Theory, 14:1, (2015), pp. 90-99.

‘Anticipating Transnational Publics: On the Use of Mini-Publics in Transnational Governance’, Politics & Society 41:3 (2013), pp. 461-484.

‘Law, Interrupted: On Legislative Disruption and Deliberative Democracy’, Democratization, 20:3 (2013) pp. 522-38 (with James Brassett).

‘Policing Civil Disobedience’, Political Studies, 60:4 (2012), pp. 826-42.

‘Private Experiments in Global Governance: Primary Commodity Roundtables and the Politics of Deliberation’, International Theory, 4:3 (2012), pp. 367-99 (with James Brassett and Ben Richardson).

‘Deliberation Beyond Borders: The Public Reason of a Society of Peoples’, Journal of International Political Theory, 7:2 (2011), pp. 117-39.

‘Civil Disobedience and the Public Sphere’, The Journal of Political Philosophy, 19:2 (2011) pp. 145-66.

‘Agency, Arena, Affect: The Deliberative Politics of Global Civil Society’, Review of International Studies, 36:2 (2010), pp. 413-30 (with James Brassett)

‘Reclaiming the Revolutionary Spirit: Arendt on Civil Disobedience’, European Journal of Political Theory, 9:2 (2010), pp. 149-166.

‘Deliberation and Global Governance: Liberal, Cosmopolitan and Critical Perspectives’, Ethics & International Affairs, 22:1 (2008), pp. 69-92 (with James Brassett).

‘Civil Disobedience and Social Power: Reflections on Habermas’, Contemporary Political Theory, 7:1, (2008), pp. 72-89.

‘Cosmopolitan Citizenship: Virtue, Irony and Worldliness’, European Journal of Social Theory, 10:1, (2007), pp. 37-52.

‘Anticipating a Cosmopolitan Future: The Case of Humanitarian Military Intervention’, International Politics, 44:1, (2007), pp. 72-89.

‘Democracy, Deliberation and Disobedience’, Res Publica, 10:4, (2004), pp. 353-77.

‘Kantian Cosmopolitanism Today: John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas on Immanuel Kant’s Foedus Pacificum’, King’s College Law Journal, 15:1, (2004), pp. 5-22 (with Robert Fine).

‘Jürgen Habermas’ Theory of Cosmopolitanism’, Constellations, 10:4, (2003), pp. 469-87 (with Robert Fine).

‘Civil Disobedience’, Contemporary Political Theory, 19:3 (2020), pp. 202-205.

‘The Ethics of (Un)Civil Resistance’, Ethics & International Affairs, 33:3 (2019), pp. 363-373.

‘Civil Disobedience and Conscientious Objection’, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics (2017), DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.114 (with K. Brownlee).

‘Cosmopolitanism’, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies (2017), DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190846626.013.133. 

‘Policing Democracy: Race, Riots and Protest’, Perspectives on Politics, 13:3 (2015), pp. 774-777.

‘A Cosmopolitan Sociology: Ulrich Beck’s Trilogy on the Global Age’, Global Networks, 8:2, (2008), pp. 253-9.

‘Spectres of Democracy: Review of We, The People of Europe? by Étienne Balibar and Spectral Nationality by Pheng Cheah’, Ethics, Place and Environment, 8:1, (2005), pp. 133-138.

Smith works in the field of contemporary political theory, understood as the exploration of the meaning of political concepts and an examination of the moral dimension of political life. He carries out research on a wide range of topics, including: civil disobedience, deliberative democracy, cosmopolitanism, theories of global governance, the politics of policing, and the political philosophies of John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas and Hannah Arendt. Smith is the author of Civil Disobedience and Deliberative Democracy and a significant number of articles in leading international journals. He is currently working on a GRF-funded project exploring the relation between the systemic turn in deliberative democracy and various forms of disruptive protest.

Smith is committed to offering students intellectually stimulating but practically relevant courses in contemporary political theory. He delivers a diverse and popular range of courses exploring a range of important topics and themes, including ‘The Idea of Freedom’, ‘Understanding Human Rights’, and ‘Ethics and International Affairs’. In 2015-16, he intends to offer a level 4 course exploring disruptive protest and its relation to democratic values.