The Vagabond Sociology Site

 Independent writing, research, and music

from the cultural kerbsides 

Where I am coming from...

We are all travellers, yet not always explorers. How and why we move through time and space is as important as the ideas which we carry with us whilst doing so. How we research and write about these journeys, and those who we meet on them, says much about the societies which we wish to create and the people we would like to be.

​​My travel and transport related writings on this site include ...

  • sociological theory informed by ecologism and anarchism

  • essays on the history of hitchhiking and transport mutual aid

  • essays on popular culture, politics and the environment

  • book reviews of political/ecological fiction and nonfiction  

  • support for fellow writers, poets, musicians and artists  

  • my own poems and songs. 


Latest news - 50% off hardback  - £10 until 31 July in MUP summer sale. 

Read my blog about why I wrote the book

Read Mike Jay's great historical assessment of 'Driving with strangers' in the London Review of Books, June 23 2022.

Latest reader's review: 'A Grand Unified Theory of Hitchhiking'

'The feminist angle was probably my key interest, but what Purkis achieves with this revelatory book is to bring a fringe topic to the forefront of the big questions of our age - climate change, social unrest, the politics of gender and race, and so on - so that the reader is given hitchhiking as a lens through which to view these questions, and even perceive exciting and novel answers. ... Accordingly he achieves the rare coup of creating a coffee-table conversation piece that can defend itself comfortably on the academic bookshelf'.

Latest interview
July 2022. Appeared in a special edition of Adventure Uncovered,
on 'Abundance'. A wide ranging discussion with Sam Firman on how hitchhiking provides a lens to look at how we can explore life more cooperatively, ecologically and equally. Why hitchhiking is far from dead, with the vagabond sociologist'. 
 The whole edition is really worth a look

Previous events and appearances

10th June 2022. Appearance on North Manchester FM106.6 'The Festival Show' with 

Hannah Kate. Recorded straight after talk below so a bit flustered!  

9th June 2022. Book related talk at Manchester Histories Festival (this year's theme Climate Change). Full day's events captured here. A nice summary of my event at 6hrs 18 mins.  

14th May 2022. Reading at Northern Publisher's Book Fair, Central Library,

Manchester. (Short clip of me reading from the Prologue to 'Driving with strangers'). 

17th February 2022 Appearance on 'Free Thinking' on BBC Radio 3 discussing hitchhiking with presenter Matthew Sweet, authors Timandra Harkness, Sally J. Morgan and film critic Adam Scovell. (This was a lot of fun to do and is a great listen with plenty of material to write on your cardboard signs). 

12th January 2022. Appearance on BBC Radio 4 'Thinking Allowed' discussing strangers and xenophobia with Laurie Taylor and George Makari. Podcast available here.  

17th September 2021 at 'Real Zero in a Hurry' DecarboN8 International Conference 

'A primer for vagabond sociology or why thinking like a hitchhiker might just save the world' . 

( This was the Shared Mobilities strand. My talk starts at 26 mins. References used in the talk. Thanks to those who contributed!)

Availability, contact and mutual aid


I am a writer, independent sociologist, tutor and musician.  


If you want to collaborate on a project, suggest a review or ask about my research, please email me: I do not have an agent or anyone answering emails, so it may take a day or two to get back to you. 

FAQ for journalists. Please take a look around the website to familiarise yourself with the history and practice of hitchhiking (if this is why you are contacting me). There are good links and resources which you can read ahead of our discussion which will ensure that our conversations will be more productive.  

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Copyright issues. Quote, cite, paraphrase by all means but do it respectfully. We all borrow from one another. Nobody sues anyone unless they have got huge amounts of money to spend or lose.