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Current Postgraduate Research Students

Richard Tutton supervises 4 postgraduate research students. Some of the students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Richard Tutton

Senior Lecturer

Richard Tutton

Bowland North

Lancaster University


Lancaster LA1 4YN

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 593044


PhD supervision

I have supervised doctoral research in areas ranging from health and citizenship, biobanking and human tissue collections, enhancement and biomedicalization, and identity-formation in the context of genetic knowledge.

I currently supervise four students:

Lee Wan-Ju whose thesis was on the Taiwanese biobank with reference to the political economy of the life sciences (with Brian Wynne, Department of Sociology). Wan Ju successfully passed her viva in June 2015 :)

Sadaf Noor who is researching the provision of life support facilities in the Bangladeshi hospital sector (with Dawn Goodwin, Division of Medicine)

Anna Portman who is investigating the scientific and social dynamics of the bicentennial celebrations of Charles Darwin's birth in 2009 (with Bronislaw Szerszynski, Department of Sociology)

Tania Pastrana who is conducting an ethnography of a palliative care unit (with Dawn Goodwin, Division of Medicine).

I would welcome opportunities to supervise future doctoral students interested in working from a science studies or sociological perspective on biomedicine or health sciences, practices and technologies, or the sociology of the future.

Research Interests


My research is at the intersection of the sociology of health and illness and the social studies of science. My current work centres on three areas:

1. Expectations, imaginaries and futures in contemporary biomedicine and biotechnology. In the last five years I have been working on what I call the 'genomic re-imagining of personalized medicine', exploring the fields of pharmacogenomics and personal genomics. In this work I have drawn on the sociology of expectations (Brown et al 2000) and the biomedical imaginary (Waldby 1996, 2000).

2. Changing forms of subjectivity and identity categories in the context of both innovative biomedical sciences and technologies and everyday healthcare practices. Previously I have worked on the use of racial/ethnic categories in genomics research. Currently, I am working with Kate Weiner (U of Sheffield) and Catherine Will (Sussex U) on practices of self-care and self-management.

3. Critical space studies. This is a new area of interest for me, sparked by the establishment in 2011 of Mars One - a not-for-profit organization based in the Netherlands - which aims to begin the human settlement of Mars in the mid-2020s. I am currently conducting a small interview-based study with people who have put themselves forward as candidates for being the first Martians, investigating their reasons for doing so, their experiences of being a candidate, their understanding of the risks and opportunities involved, and how they imagine the development of human society on another planet.

I am also the co-editor with Adam Hedgcoe at Cardiff University of the journal New Genetics and Society, published by Taylor Francis.

Current Teaching

SOCL101 Introduction to the Sociology of the Future

MCS/SOCL 360 Independent Dissertation Project

MA Learning Skills

MA 906 The Social Life of Science and Technology: Theories and Debates

BIOL465 Biomedicine in Context

Additional Information


My academic training was in literary and cultural studies, before my interest turned to studying the social implications of human genetics research in the late 1990s. I completed a PhD with Sarah Franklin and Maureen McNeil in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University in 2002, and then took up a post-doc post in SATSU (Science and Technology Studies Unit) at University of York working with Anne Kerr and Sarah Cunningham-Burley on an ESRC funded project called Transformations in Genetic Subjecthood. When this research finished, I moved to the Institute for Science and Society (ISS) at the University of Nottingham and collaborated with Paul Martin (at ISS), Richard Ashcroft (Queen Mary's), George Ellison (St George's London), and Andrew Smart (Bath Spa) on the 'Race/ethnicity and Genetics in Science and Health' Project, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust's Biomedical Ethics Programme.

In September 2007, I joined ESRC Cesagen (Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics) which formed part of the ESRC Genomics Network. I was responsible for managing the operation of the Lancaster site and served as Acting Associate Director for a short period in 2011. I remained at Cesagen until its closure at the end of 2012.

After taking sabbatical leave in 2012-13, I am now based in the Department of Sociology. I contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.


My Role

In addition to my research and teaching, I also serve in the role of:

Undergraduate Admissions Tutor (with my colleague Karenza Moore)
Co-Director of the MA Programme (with my colleague Claire Waterton), and Convener of the MA Social Research and MA Sociology
Careers and Employability Tutor

External Roles

I am the co-editor (with Adam Hedgecoe at Cardiff University) of the journal New Genetics and Society, published by Taylor Francis.

I am the external examiner for the MSc Medicine Science & Society programme in the Department for Social Science and Health at King's College London.

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