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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Sarah Parry

Sarah Parry
Dr Sarah Parry
Senior Lecturer
Attic Room A.2 Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
++44 (0)131 650 4262

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Tuesdays 10-12, and others by appointment.


  • BA Hons (Social and Cultural Studies, University of Derby)
  • MA (International Cultural Studies, Nottingham Trent University)
  • PhD (Science and Technology Studies, University of Edinburgh)

Biographical Statement and Research Interests

In 2003 I joined STIS as a lecturer in Sociology. My academic roots are in sociology, cultural studies and science and technology studies - a path that began with an inspirational and gifted A Level Sociology teacher called Margaret Tedde. As part of previous and current work, I am interested in:

  • The construction and negotiation of knowledge and expertise
  • Classifications and understandings of nature
  • Reproductive technologies/reproductive genetics
  • The promises and limitations of public engagement in wider governance processes
  • 'Public Sociology' and the role of social science & critique in society
  • Issue framing (as technical, social, ethical, political etc.) in decision-making processes relating to science, technology and medicine

PhD Supervision

I am happy to receive applications for doctoral research in areas related to those listed above.


Siân Beynon-Jones: Expertise and Scottish Abortion Practice: Understanding Healthcare Professionals' Accounts (2006-2009)

Nicola Marks: Opening Up Spaces for Reflexivity? Scientists’ Discourses about Stem Cell Research and Public Engagement (2003-2007)


I currently co-organise three courses:

1. Gender, Science and Technology (Undergraduate & Postgraduate)

2. Controversies in Science and Technology

3. Controversies in Medicine, Technology and Environment

I am also the Exams Convenor and a Personal Tutor for students on the MA in Sustainable Development


Research Projects

Sustainable Practices Research Group (2010 - 2013)

I was principle investigator for the 'Engagement, Interaction and Influence' work-package for the Sustainable Practices Research Group (SPRG), funded by ESRC, DEFRA and Scottish Government. The SPRG aimed to develop fresh understandings about how social practices change and how to encourage more sustainable behaviours. Particular emphasis was placed on consumption - on the grounds that changing the consumption practices of billions of individuals poses the greatest challenge to the achievement of sustainability. The SPRG took its cue from social theories that emphasize the importance of collective understandings and everyday practices and on the material and social circumstances that constrain behaviour in order to find levers for intervention.

Building on my previous research on public engagement, this project had both a research and an engagement component. The aim of the research component was to further our understanding of the relationship between social science and public policy. Through the analysis of four contemporary case studies where social science and public policy are interacting we asked: what are the processes within each that lead to the inclusion/exclusion of social science ideas in/from public policy? Our findings from the research element fed into an engagement component which brought together social scientists with people from public policy, civil society, business and the third sector. The aim of the engagement component was to identify opportunities for opening up existing debates in such a way that insights from social science research on behaviour, environment and sustainable consumption could be taken up. My collaborators on this project are Prof. Joseph Murphy (co-I) and Dr Fraser Stewart (Research Fellow, 2011-2013). We are currently writing up our research findings.

Eurostemcell (2010 - 2014)

I was involved in a European consortium for communicating stem cell research. This project brought together the major EU-funded large-scale stem cell projects and aimed to create a coordinated platform for widespread dissemination of scientific knowledge spanning the research fields of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. My role was to advise on the evaluation of the communication and engagement activities generated as part of this project.

Meanings of nature (2008 - 2010)

I coordinated a network of scholars to explore the relationship between developments in genomics and our knowledge and understanding of 'nature'. I subsequently co-edited a book (with John Dupré) on the same topic which was published in 2010 (see below).


Public engagement and stem cell research (2005 - 2008)

Funded under the ESRC's programme, "Stem Cell Research: The Economic and Social Agenda", I recently completed a three year project: "The Social Dynamics of Public Engagement in Stem Cell Research". This was a collaborative project with Sarah Cunningham-Burley (Public Health Sciences & CRFR), Wendy Faulkner (Science Studies Unit) and Austin Smith (Institute for Stem Cell Biology, University of Cambridge). We also had a research fellow and a science communications officer working as part of the research team. The project had two aims: first, to explore the views of a wide range of publics and experts in Scotland and, second, to develop engagement methods for establishing a dialogue between different groups.


Murphy, J., Parry, S., and Walls, J. (2016) The EPSRC's policy of responsible innovation from a trading zones perspective. Minerva, 54: 2: 151–174.

Parry, S. & Murphy, J. (2015): Problematizing interactions between social science and public policy, Critical Policy Studies, 9(1): 97-107.

Parry, S. and Murphy, J. (2013) 'Towards a Framework for Analysing Interactions between Social Science and Environmental Policy', Evidence & Policy, 9(4): 531-546.

Parry, S., Faulkner, W., Cunningham-Burley, S., and Marks., N.J. (2012) 'Heterogeneous Agendas Around Public Engagement in Stem Cell Research: The Case for Maintaining Plasticity', Science and Technology Studies, 24(2): 61-80.

Bates, S., Faulkner, W., Parry, S. and Cunningham-Burley, S. (2010) ''How Do We Know It's Not Been Done Yet?!' Trust, Trust Building and Regulation in Stem Cell Research', Science and Public Policy, 37(9): 703-718. 

Hallowell, N., Parry, S., Cooke., S., Crawford, G., Lucassen., A., and Parker, M. (2010) 'Lay and Professional Understandings of Research and Clinical Activities in Cancer Genetics and their Implications for Informed Consent', American Journal Of Bioethics Primary Care, 1(2): 25-34.

Parry, S. and Dupré, J. (eds) (2010) Nature After The Genome, Oxford: Blackwell/Sociological Review. 

Parry, S. (2010) 'Interspecies Entities and the Politics of Nature’ in S. Parry and J. Dupré (eds) Nature After The Genome, Oxford: Blackwell/Sociological Review.

Parry, S. (2009) 'Stem cell scientists’ discursive strategies for cognitive authority', Science as Culture, 18(1):89-114.

Haddow, G., Cunningham-Burley, S., Bruce, A. and Parry, S. (2008) 'Generation Scotland: consulting publics and specialists at an early stage in a genetic database's development', Critical Public Health, 18(2):139-149. 

Parry, S. (2006) ‘(Re)Constructing embryos in stem cell research: Exploring the meaning of embryos for people involved in fertility treatments’, Social Science & Medicine, 62(10): 2349-2359. 

Parry, S. (2003) 'The politics of cloning: Mapping the rhetorical convergence of embryos and stem cells in parliamentary debates', New Genetics and Society, 22(2): 177-200.

Recent Invited Talks

Murphy, J. and Parry, S. (2013) 'Responsible Innovation: A Trading Zones Perspective', Senior Seminar, School of Interdisciplinary studies, University of Glasgow, Wednesday 11 December.

Parry, S. and Murphy, J. (2013) 'Trading zones: What are they and how can they help us understand and enhance interactions between social science and public policy?'. Science and Technology Studies Unit Seminar Series, University of York, 30 May.

Murphy, J. and Parry, S. (2012) 'Analysing interactions between social science and public policy', Senior Seminar, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, 28 November.

Parry, S. and Murphy, J. (2012) 'Social Research and Environmental Policy', New Frontiers of Impact - The Impact Agenda, ESRC Seminar Series, University of Manchester, 22 February.

Topics interested in supervising

I have enjoyed supervising students from a range of backgrounds - from within the natural and social sciences - and would welcome students interested in any of the following: The construction and negotiation of knowledge and expertise, including that of publics; classifications and understandings of nature; reproductive technologies/reproductive genetics; the promises and limitations of public engagement in wider governance processes; 'public Sociology' and the role of social science & critique in society; and issue framing (as technical, social, ethical, political etc.) in decision-making processes relating to science, technology and medicine. If you have an idea that builds on any of these interests then feel free to get in touch. More recently, I am developing my research expertise and future projects (teaching and research) in the area of gender and environment. Get in touch if you would like to discuss research ideas in this area.

If you are interested in being supervised by Sarah Parry, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies