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Simon Williams

Simon Williams

Emeritus Professor



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Background - Biography

I joined the Department of Sociology at Warwick in 1992, becoming a full Professor in 2006 and Emeritus Professor in October 2019. Prior to that I was a Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS) at the University of Kent (1990-1992), having successfully completing my ESRC funded PhD in 1990 at the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London.

Ever since my undergraduate days, I have always had a strong conviction in the enduring power and promise of the social and political sciences in a complex, changing world. I am also strongly committed to interdisciplinary conversations, particularly those of a biosocial and biopolitical kind, and to wider engagements with diverse audiences and publics, including media profiling of my work.

I have 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). I am also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Read My Abridged CV here.

Research Profile

My research, broadly speaking, is located at the intersections of sociology, politics and science and technology studies (STS), with particular reference to: (i) body matters and embodiment; (ii) sleep, health and society; (iii) bioscience, biotechnology and biomedicine; (iv) new digital technologies to track and optimise ourselves; (v) enhancement and the future of humanity. I also have longstanding interests in social theory (particularly realist social theory), social research methods, and ways of thinking and researching biosocial relations.

I have been notably active, as an outgrowth of my previous interests in body matters, in developing with colleagues social and interdisciplinary research agendas regarding sleep and society, including an early agenda-setting ESRC 'Sleep and Society' seminar series and other discussions and reflections on sleep matters and the politics of sleep over the years in places such as Somatosphere, the RSA journal and Discover Society. In doing so, I have actively contributed to the flowering and flourishing of the sociology of sleep over the years as part and parcel of a wider series of engagements with sleep matters in the social sciences and humanities today. Other interrelated strands of research include work on pharmaceuticals in society and most recently of all writings on the politics of chronobiology in society and related rhythmic matters of a biosocial kind in sickness and in health (see recent publications below).

Research awards 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 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 Wellcome seed fund project (with colleagues at Surrey and Royal Holloway) on 'Social Media and Sleep: Ethical Agendas in the Digital Age'.


To date, I have 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'). My latest co-authored book, 'Technosleep: Frontiers, Fictions, Futures' (2023), follows two previous single-authored books on 'The Politics of Sleep (2011) and Sleep and Society (2005) respectively. For a full list of my books to date click here.

Bibliometrics (August 2021): h-index 36 (Scopus) 58 (Google Scholar); i10-index 123 (Google Scholar).

New and Recent Publications:

Williams, S.J, Meadows, R and and Coveney, C. (In Press) 'Sleep, Health and Medicine: Sociological Agendas'. In Petersen, A. (ed) The Handbook on the Sociology of Health and Medicine. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Coveney C, Greaney M, Hsu, E.L, Meadows, R, Williams, S.J. (2023) Technosleep: Frontiers, Fictions, Futures. Palgrave Macmillan.

Williams, S.J. (2022) 'Sleep', in Monaghan, L and Gabe, J. (eds). Key Concepts in Medical Sociology 3rd Edition. London: Sage (plus other updated entries with Monaghan, L. on 'Embodiment' and 'Stigma').

Williams, S.J, Meadows, R and Coveney, C (2021) Desynchronised times? Chronobiology, (bio)medicalisation and the rhythms of life itself. Sociology of Health & Illness. 43, 6: 1501-17.

Williams, S., Coveney, C and Meadows, R. (2021) Thinking through the biosocial in pandemic times: Some rhythmic reflections. Somatosphere April 19.

Calnan, M, Williams, S.J. and Gabe, J. (2020) Uncertain times: Trust matters during the Pandemic. Discover Society. June 01.

Williams, S.J and Gabe, J. (2020) Fast forward: Online teaching and the future of higher education post-pandemic (Parts I & II). Discover Society May 27th.

Williams, S.J and Meadows, R. (2020) Coronavirus: Why sleep gaps may widen during and after the crisis. Discover Society. April 12th.

Teaching and Supervision

I have taught on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules in the Department over the years, including the sociology of health and medicine and the sociology of the body. I have also successfully co-supervised a number of doctoral students. Recent successfully completed doctoral student projects include studies of: Coeliac disease and self-care in the digital age (Sam Martin, co-funded by Warwick and Coeliac UK); the creation and inheritance of digital 'afterlives' (Debra Bassett).

PLEASE NOTE: I have now retired and so no longer teaching or taking on any new PhD students or post-docs.