School of Social and Political Science

Steven Yearley

Job Title

Professor of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

photo of Steve wearing a scarf

Room number


Building (Address)

Old Surgeons' Hall

Street (Address)

High School Yards

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Environment, citizen science, Justice and environment, Environmental Sociology, Sociology of knowledge and science, Sustainability, Sociology of Climate Change

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome applications in all areas of science and technology studies, in environmental social science, and in social aspects of genomics and contemporary life science. At the moment I have PhD students working on (or recently completed on) a variety of topics including environmental modelling, on-line expertise, conservation controversies, nuclear power and the ‘risk society’ in China, and environmental justice. I am particularly keen to supervise in areas where environmental topics and STS overlap.

If you are interested in being supervised by Steven Yearley, please see the links below (open in new windows) for more information:



  • MA (Cantab & Oxon),
  • PhD (York)

Principal Interests and Biographical Statement

Steve Yearley is the Director of IASH and holds the Chair in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge in STIS, the subject area of “Science, Technology and Innovation Studies”.

Steve is well known for his work in social studies of science and in environmental sociology. He is particularly concerned with areas where these specialisms overlap: for example in environmental controversies with a pronounced scientific element (such as with recent disputes over the safety or otherwise of GMOs and the emerging concerns around synthetic biology) or, for example, in attempts to foster public engagement in technical decision-making in environmental areas (for instance, through his work on citizen engagement in urban air-quality issues).

Having moved to Edinburgh in 2005 with an appointment in Sociology, Steve soon took over the role of Director of the ESRC Genomics Policy & Research Forum. He then moved to STIS in 2013, before being offered the IASH post in summer 2017. For much of this time he also served as the Executive Secretary to SCRR (the Scottish Consortium for Rural Research) which links the principal institutions concerned with environmental and agricultural research in Scotland.

Currently working 2 days per week in STIS and 3 in IASH, Steve is also a co-director of SKAPE, the centre for the study of Science, Knowledge and Policy which links science studies with political science and social policy at the University of Edinburgh.

Further information about Steve can also be found on his IASH page, while his publications are listed pretty systematically on Google Scholar.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Yearley S. Environmentalists as science communicators: Advocates and critics in an age of climate challenges. In Bucchi M, Trench B, editors, The Routledge Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology. 3 ed. Abingdon: Routledge. 2021
Sovacool B, Hess DJ, Amir S, Geels FW, Hirsh R, Rodriguez Medina L et al. Sociotechnical agendas: Reviewing future directions for energy and climate research. Energy Research & Social Science. 2020 Sep 7;70. 101617.
Yearley S. Political, ethical, and societal aspects of issuing warnings to humanity. Ecocene: Cappadocia Journal of Environmental Humanities. 2020 Jun 30;1(1):19-25.
Baker S, (ed.), Milton K, (ed.), Yearley S, (ed.). Protecting the Periphery: Environmental Policy in Peripheral Regions of the European Union. 1 ed. Routledge, 2019. 174 p. (Routledge Library Editions: Environmental Policy).
Sundqvist G, Gasper D, St.Clair AL, Hermansen EAT, Yearley S, Tvedten IØ et al. One world or two? Science-policy interactions in the climate field. Critical Social Policy. 2018 Dec;12(4):448-468.
Yearley S. Economic Valuation of the Environment. In Bostrom M, Davidson D, editors, Environment and Society: Concepts and Challenges. 1 ed. Palgrave Macmillan. 2018. p. 143-165. (Palgrave Studies in Environmental Sociology and Policy).
Yearley S. Communication strategies of environmental NGOs and advocacy groups. In Nisbet MC, Schäfer MS, Markowitz E, Thaker J, Ho SS, O'Neill S, editors, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2018. (Oxford Research Encyclopedias).
Yearley S (Author), Rodrigues E (Author). Targets for climate change policy: A special case? University of Edinburgh. 2016.
Yearley S, Rodrigues E. Monitoring, Numbers and Empirical Governance: Lessons from Climate and Migration Monitoring in the UK. 2016.
Sundqvist G, Bohlin I, Hermansen EAT, Yearley S. Formalization and separation: A systematic basis for interpreting approaches to summarizing science for climate policy. Social Studies of Science. 2015 Jun 1;45(3):416-440.
Boswell C, Yearley S, Fleming C, Rodrigues E, Spinardi G. The effects of targets and indicators on policy formulation: Narrowing down, crowding out and locking in. In Jordan AJ, Turnpenny JR, editors, The Tools of Policy Formulation: Actors, Capacities, Venues and Effects. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2015. p. 225-244. (New Horizons in Public Policy).
Fletcher I, Yearley S, Lyall C. Mapping the UK Government’s genome: analysing convergence in UK policy one decade into the twenty-first century. In Wienroth M, Rodrigues E, editors, Knowing New Biotechnologies: Social Aspects of Technological Convergence. 2015. p. 92-104. (Genetics and Society).
Yearley S. Considering convergences in technology and society. In Wienroth M, Rodrigues E, editors, Knowing New Biotechnologies: Social Aspects of Technological Convergence. Abingdon: Routledge. 2015. p. 191-95. (Genetics and Society).
Yearley S. Sociology and politics of risk. In Wright JD, editor, International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral. 2nd ed. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd. 2015. p. 706-710
Yearley S. The Green Case: A Sociology of Environmental Issues, Arguments and Politics. Routledge, 2014. 208 p. (Routledge Revivals).
Yearley S. Environmentalists as communicators of science. In Bucchi M, Trench B, editors, Routledge Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. 2014. p. 113-24. (Routledge International Handbooks).
Yearley S. Science, Technology, and Social Change. Routledge, 2014. 200 p. (Routledge Revivals).
van der Wal R, Miller D, Irvine J, Fiorini S, Amar A, Yearley S et al. The influence of information provision on people's landscape preferences: A case study on understorey vegetation of deer-browsed woodlands. Landscape and Urban Planning. 2014 Apr;124:129-139.
Austin Z, Smart JCR, Yearley S, Irvine RJ, White PCL. Incentivising the collaborative management of mobile ecological resources. Land Use Policy . 2014 Jan 1;36:485-491.
Yearley S, Mercer D, Pitman AJ, Conway E. Perspectives on global warming. Metascience. 2012 Jan 12;21(3):531-559.
Fiorini S, Yearley S, Dandy N. Wild Deer, Multivalence, and Institutional Adaptation: The ‘Deer Management Group’ in Britain. Human Organization. 2011;70(2):179-188.
Yearley S. Citizen Engagement with the Politics of Air Quality: Lessons for Social Theory, Science Studies and Environmental Sociology. In Lidskog R, Sundqvist G, editors, Governing the Air: The Dynamics of Science, Policy, and Citizen Interaction . Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. 2011. p. 253-271
Yearley S. Making out the promise of synthetic biology. 2010. Paper presented at ESRC Genomics Network 4th International Conference - Delivering Global Promise Through the Life Sciences, Paris, France.
Austin Z, Smart JCR, Yearley S, Irvine RJ, White PCL. Identifying Conflicts and Opportunities for Collaboration in the Management of a Wildlife Resource: A Mixed-Methods Approach. Wildlife Research. 2010 Dec;37(8):647-657.
Harwood J, Yearley S. What can development policy learn from the history of development? Food Security. 2010 Jul 29;2(3):285-290.
Yearley S. "Science and the environment in the twenty-first century,". In Redclift M, Woodgate G, editors, The New International Handbook of Environmental Sociology. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 2010. p. 212-225
Yearley S. Understanding Responses to the Environmental and Ethical Aspects of Innovative Technologies: The Case of Synthetic Biology in Europe. In Gross M, Heinrichs H, editors, Environmental Sociology: European Perspectives and Interdisciplinary Challenges. Berlin: Springer. 2010. p. 97-108
Frow E, Yearley S. People, Policy and Plant Genomics. In Kole C, Abbott A, editors, Principles and Practices of Plant Genomics - Advanced Genomics. Vol. 3. New Hampshire: Science Publishers, Inc. . 2010. p. 528-570
Yearley S. The Ethical Landscape: Identifying the Right Way to think about the Ethical and Societal Aspects of Synthetic Biology Research and Products. Journal of the Royal Society. Interface. 2009 Aug;6(Suppl 4):S559-S564.
Yearley S. Sociology and Climate Change after Kyoto: What Roles for Social Science in Understanding Climate Change? Current Sociology. 2009 May;57(3):389-405.
Irvine RJ, Fiorini S, Yearley S, McLeod JE, Turner A, Armstrong H et al. Can Managers Inform Models? Integrating Local Knowledge into Models of Red Deer Habitat Use. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2009 Apr;46(2):344-352.
Frow E, Ingram D, Powell W, Steer D, Vogel J, Yearley S. The politics of plants. Food Security. 2009 Feb;1(1):17-23.
Yearley S. Cultures of environmentalism: empirical studies in environmental sociology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 216 p.
Yearley S. Globalization and the environment. In Ritzer G, editor, The Blackwell Companion to Globalization. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2008. p. 239-253
Yearley S. Nature and the environment in science and technology studies. In Hackett E, Amsterdamska O, Lynch M, Wajcman J, editors, The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. 2007. p. 921-948
Yearley S. How Many "Ends" of Nature: Making Sociological and Phenomenological Sense of the End of Nature. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. 2006 Mar 1;1(1):10-21.
Yearley S. Bridging the science – policy divide in urban air-quality management: evaluating ways to make models more robust through public engagement. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy. 2006 Jan 1;24(5):701-714.
Yearley S. Science and the environment in the twenty-first century. In Redclift M, Woodgate G, editors, The New International Handbook of Environmental Sociology. Edward Elgar. 2000. p. 212-225
Brewer JD, McBride G, Yearley S. Orchestrating an encounter: A note on the talk of mentally handicapped children. Sociology of Health & Illness. 1991 Mar;13(1):58-67.