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Public Health and Biomedicine

Political economy of public health and biomedicine are two core research strengths of Cambridge Sociology. We have many research students and postdocs working in these areas and we welcome applications from prospective PhD and MPhil students wishing to work in this area.

Political Economy of Public Health

This project has as its goal the bringing together of the type of variables, analyses and methods used in political economy with public health research. More precisely, this project seeks to investigate the public health outcomes of various political and economic processes, including macro- and micro-economic policy. It seeks to build on the 'social determinants of disease' research, pushing it further and making it dynamic. In other words, it seek to uncover the 'social determinants of the social determinants of health.' The project is led by Lawrence King, Professor of Sociology and Political Economy in the Department. Much of his research to date has focused on the relationship between mass privatization of industry and increased mortality in post-communist eastern Europe. Professor King received an Advanced Investigator grant from the European Research Council for €3.5 million to generate micro-data to conclusively test the privatization-mortality hypothesis. He has begun to extend this work from the postcommunist world to Latin America and India. He has also published on and continues to research the global governance of public health, with an international power structure analysis of the budgeting process of the World Health Organization. In addition he has an active research stream on the political processes governing health technology assessment and reimbursement of patented pharmaceuticals in Eastern Europe.


Professor Sarah Franklin's work on the changing meanings of the biological is based on 30 years of research in biomedical clinics and bioscientific laboratories in the UK. Through her research on the IVF-Stem Cell interface, she is contributing to the sociology of translation, to feminist science studies, and to the study of the biosociety. Her British Academy Research Project on the history of reproductive technologies and embryo research in the UK is closely linked to the scientific and medical faculties at Cambridge, and contributes to both methodological and theoretical innovation in what have come to be known as biosocial studies. Dr Zeynep Gurtin, along with Professor Marcia Inhorn of Yale, coined the term 'cross border reproductive care' to describe a new dimension of health care consumption that has since become a key term of use in the study of reproductive biomedicine (CBRC) and the subject of a special issue of Reproductive Biomedicine Online. Dr Liberty Barnes' ethnography of male infertility has led to a larger project on the development of andrology, and the standardization of male fertility analysis in the late twentieth century, for which she has applied for ESRC funding.

Full details of the current research interests of individual members of staff can be found by following the links in the Members of the Department pages.

For information on other research groups in the Department, visit the Research page.