Risk, Policy and Law

L0003354 The Poor Man's Friend (Death)

L0003354 The poor man’s friend (Death). Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Click for the new Health Inequalities seminar programme.

How does something come to be defined as a ‘risk’ to well-being? How does someone come to be defined as ‘at risk’ of mental or physical harm? What strategies are employed to manage risks associated with health and well-being, how do these strategies come to be employed, and what are their effects?

V0047886 Poster issued by the British Ministry of Health for the

V0047886 Polio poster issued by the British Ministry of Health. Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Do the languages of ‘risk’ and attempts to govern ‘risks’ reflect specific aspects of ‘modernity’? What roles have modern states and modern forms of knowledge played in constructing risks related to health? What implications do policies aimed at governing risk have for relations between modern states and society?

Issues associated with risk need to be situated within specific historical, social and political contexts and in relation to the major economic considerations, political strategies and legal developments that have shaped these contexts. With this perspective, the ‘Risk, Policy and the Law’ research strand has two major aims:

1. To make a methodological contribution to the study of risk, policy and the law by attempting to bridge the gap between social-scientific approaches to risk and those employed in the arts and humanities; the point of departure here is an exploration of the presumed biopolitical nature of governing risk that has preoccupied scholarly discourse and broader public debate.

2. To make an empirical contribution by bringing together medical research and historical, sociological and legal findings on definitions of ‘risk’ and attempts to govern it.

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2015 Annual Workshop

​We will hold our 2015 annual workshop on the theme ‘Children, Health and Politics’.

​It will take place on Friday, 5 June from 9.15 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Humanities Research Institute seminar room.

Downloads: Workshop programme

All welcome! To register, please contact Matthias Benzer and Julia Moses.


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Health Inequalities Seminar Series 2014-15

This year’s theme of the Risk, Policy and the Law strand is “health inequalities”.

The corresponding seminar programme is as follows and the seminars will take place from 4.15-6 p.m. All are welcome!

4 December 2014 ICOSS Board Room

End of life care for people with dementia: policies, practices and problems
Dr Richard Lee & Ms Claire Bamford (Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University)

Back to the drawing board for long term conditions: a challenge for society
Dr Maria Read (NHS, Sheffield)

[more details…]

19 February 2015 ICOSS Board Room

Interrogating categories: the historiography of ‘international’ and ‘global’ health
Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya (Director of the Centre for Global Health Histories, University of York).

[more details…]

30 April 2015 ICOSS Board Room

Interrogating the idea that ‘health is global’: re-examining the construction of Ebola as a ‘global health threat’
Dr Simon Rushton (Department of Politics, University of Sheffield)

Global Risks, National Responses: The Case of Blood-Borne Viruses
Associate Professor Rosemary Taylor (Tufts University, Massachusetts)

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Inaugural Workshop

The strand was launched on 13 June 2014 with the one-day workshop ‘Health Inequalities’. The workshop focused on the health risks associated with the shift from industrial to postindustrial society, and it aimed to situate Sheffield as a case study against a broader backdrop of developments in the UK and across the globe. It explored both inequalities of a geographic nature and those affecting different population groups. Finally, it considered the economic and ethical problem of efficiency vs. equity in health.

Downloads: Workshop programme | Workshop report

The 2014-15 academic year will inaugurate our seminar series and a blog devoted to the theme. The seminars will bring together scholars from across the university, in the social sciences, arts and humanities and medicine as well as external participants.


[message_box icon=”envelope”]To contact the ‘Risk, Policy and the Law’ strand, please email one of the co-convenors:

Dr Julia Moses (Department of History): j.moses@sheffield.ac.uk

Dr Matthias Benzer (Department of Sociological Studies): m.benzer@sheffield.ac.uk