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Simon Williams

Simon Williams

Professor of Sociology


Room: D0.07

Telephone: +44 (0)2476 523064


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Background - Biography

Simon successfully completed his doctoral studies in the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London, in 1990, with a thesis in medical sociology on 'The consequences of chronic respiratory illness' -- subsequently published as a book in the Routledge 'Experience of Illness' Series. He joined the Department of Sociology at Warwick in 1992, first as a lecturer, then as a Warwick Research Fellow (WRF), becoming a Reader in 2000 and a full Professor of Sociology in 2006. Prior to this he was a Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS) at the University of Kent.

Simon is a passionate teacher and researcher with strong conviction in the enduring power and promise of the social sciences in a complex, changing world. He is also strongly committed to interdisciplinary conversations, particularly those of a biosocial and biopolitical nature, and to wider engagements with diverse audiences and publics, including media profiling of his work.

Simon has served on the editorial boards of a number of key international journals in his field (such as Sociology of Health & Illness; Health; Social Theory & Health). He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Read Simon's Abridged CV

Research Profile

Simon's research to date falls into the following interrelated areas of social and political science pertaining to the body, health and emotion; bioscience, biomedicine, biopolitics; media, culture and everyday/night life. He also has longstanding interests in social theory (particularly realist social theory, relational sociology, psychoanalytically informed social theory, and biologically minded social theory) and social research methods (both quantitative and qualitative), including newly emerging interests in biosocial methods and complexity within the biological and social sciences today.

He has been notably active in recent years, as an outgrowth of his previous interests in body matters, in developing with colleagues sociological and interdisciplinary research agendas regarding sleep and society, including an early agenda-setting ESRC 'Sleep and Society' seminar series and other recent discussions and reflections on sleep matters and the politics of sleep in Somatosphere, the RSA journal and Discover Society. This in turn has been augmented through other interrelated strands of research (some early, others now well established) on the sociology and politics of pharmaceuticals; mental health and illness; neuroscience and human enhancement; and new forms of monitoring, measuring, managing and optimising ourselves in the digital age.

Research awards to date include grants (as PI or CI) from funding bodies such as the ESRC, the British Academy and the NHS Executive, as well as the co-supervision of a number of successfully completed ESRC doctoral studentships and a current co-funded Warwick-Coeliac UK studentship. Recent projects for example, include a collaborative (Royal Holloway, Warwick, King's College London) ESRC funded study of Medicated Sleep and Wakefulnes: A Social Scienfitic Investigation of Stakeholder Interests, Policies and Practices and a new Wellcome seed fund project (with colleagues at Surrey and Royal Holloway) on 'Social Media and Sleep: Ethical Agendas in the Digital Age' which commences in October 2016. Another new research bid on 'Chronobiology and Society: Problems, Politics, Prospects' is currently in the early stages of development.



To date, Simon has authored, co-authored or co-edited well over 100 publications, including books, co-edited volumes, journal articles, as well as special issues of key journals such as Sociological Research Online (on sleep, gender and the lifecourse) Body & Society (on sleeping bodies), Sociology of Health & Illness (on pharmaceuticals and society), Subjectivities (on neuroscience and subjectivity) and Social Science and Medicine (on 'pharmaceuticalization: problems and prospects'). His most recent single-authored book is 'The Politics of Sleep: Governing (Un)Consciousness in the Late Modern Age' (2011, Palgrave Macmillan). He has also just finished a new co-edited Sociological Review Monograph on 'Biosocial Matters' and is currently writing up papers from his ESRC sleep medicines project as well as a new draft paper with the working title 'Circadian Times? Chronobiology and Society Today'.

Latest Publications:

Williams, S.J, Coveney, C. and Gabe, J. (In Press) The concept of medicalisation reassessed: A response to Joan Busfield. Sociology of Health and Illness. 39, 5: 775-80.

Gabe, J., Williams, S.J and Coveney, C (2017) Prescription hypnotics in the news: a study of UK audiences. Social Science and Medicine. 174 (Feb) 43-52.

Meloni, M., Williams, S.J., Martin, P. (eds) (2016) 'Biosocial Matters: Rethinking Sociology-Biology Relations in the Twenty-First Century'. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Williams, S.J., Coveney, C. and Meadows, R (2015) M-apping sleep? Trends and transformations in the digital age. Sociology of Health & Illness. 37 (7): 1039-54.

Gabe, J., Coveney, C. and Williams S.J. (2015) Prescriptions and proscriptions: Moralising sleep medicines. Sociology of Health & Illness. Nov 20. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12383.

Teaching and Supervision

Simon convenes and teaches the following half modules:

He has also taught on a range of other undergraduate and postgraduate modules in the Department over the years and successfully co-supervised a number of doctoral students. Simon is happy to discuss the prospects of postgraduate or post-doctoral research in any areas of sociology, particularly those mentioned above.