Professor Andy Alaszewski

Emeritus Professor of Health Studies, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research,
Founding Editor, Health, Risk & Society (International Journal published by Taylor and Francis)
+44 (0)1227 765732
Professor Andy Alaszewski


Professor Alaszewski joined the University of Kent in 2001 as Professor of Health Studies and Director of the Centre for Health Services Studies. He retired following a serious illness in 2010. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate education at the University of Cambridge (1968-1976) with a BA in Social Anthropology and a PhD in Social and Political Sciences. After graduating, he worked at the University of Hull as a Research Fellow, then Lecturer and Senior Lecturer before becoming Director of the Institute of Health Studies and Professor of Health Studies in 1992.

Research interests

Over his career, Professor Alaszewski developed research interests into different aspects of the relationship between health and society; the management of risk, personal experiences of illnesses and health and the ways in which health policy is formed and implemented. The Covid-19 pandemic provided Professor Alaszewski with an opportunity to bring together these interests to examine the interaction between scientific, policy and public responses to the coronavirus.

Professor Alaszewski has analysed the pandemic in a series of publications. He started with a critique of the precautionary approach taken to pregnancy and childbirth: Should pregnant women be in a high risk Covid-19 category?’ British Journal of Midwifery (2020). He followed this up with a series of publications exploring the pandemic and risk. These publication included two Policy Press books: a rapid response COVID-19 and Risk: Policy Making in a Global Pandemic (2021) and a fuller study in Managing Risk during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Global Policies, Narratives and Practices (2023); plus several articles, book chapters and blogs. He is currently working on a comparison of the UK’s and Japan’s responses to the pandemic.

Since 1994, Professor Alaszewski has researched and published on the sociology of risk. In 1994-7 he was a collaborator in ESRC Risk and Human Behaviour programme. Drawing on the work of the programme, in 1998 he co-founded (with Jill Manthorpe) the international peer-reviewed journal, Health, Risk & Society. In 2001, he was a reviewer and panel member for the ESRC Risk Network competition which created the Social Contexts and Responses to Risk Network (SCARR) led by Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby in SSPSSR. In 2002 (with Tom Horlick-Jones) he undertook a review of future research priorities in health and risk for the ESRC and MRC. His publication in this area include five books. In 2010, Oxford University Press published Risk, Safety and Clinical Practice: Healthcare through the lens of risk. which he co-authored with Prof Bob Heyman and his colleagues.

Having experienced a life threatening illness as an undergraduate student in Cambridge, Professor Alaszewski has explored the ways in which individuals experience life threatening illness and disabilities. His doctoral thesis examined the experiences of adults and children with learning disabilities who were institutionalised (published by Croom Helm in 1986, Institutional Care and the Mentally Handicapped). He is currently working on a book on ‘Managing Uncertainty: Stroke Survivors’ Narratives of Life after Stroke’, which examines the ways in which individuals who have survived the major trauma of a stroke make sense of and order their lives.

As Director of research units at the University of Hull (IHS) and at the University of Kent (CHSS), Professor Alaszewski was committed to developing research expertise both in the higher education and in health care. Professor Alaszewski worked with the National Institute for Health Research in 2007 to set up Regional Research Design Services and was first Director of the NIHR Regional Design Service for the South East which had an annual budget of nearly a million pounds. With his background in anthropology, Professor Alaszewski developed qualitative methodologies that highlight the key role that individuals play in making sense of the challenges of everyday life. He has examined the ways in which diaries can be used to access illness narratives. He has developed his interest in diary research through a series of publications including a textbook in the SAGE methodology series (Using Diaries for Social Research, 2006) which has been translated into Japanese and Korean, the foundation entry on diaries in the SAGE Encyclopaedia of Research Methods and chapters in methodology textbooks on risk, health and religion.

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