Testing times: new research project looks at expectations in healthcare testing


PewDiePie, new media stars and the court of public opinion


Let’s talk about sex: inclusion in the classroom and beyond with Dr Kirsten McLean


Kirsten McLean recognised in 2016 Vice Chancellor’s Teaching awards


Alan Petersen elected to the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences

Professor Alan Petersen who has recently been elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in the UK. This is a very prestigious appointment, with fellows including academics, practitioners and policy makers from around the world. Alan was the only Australian and one of only two non-UK people elected.
See the list fellows here.
As the Academy notes: ‘The new Fellows are drawn from across the spectrum of academia, practitioners and policymakers. They have been recognised after an extensive process of peer review for the excellence and impact of their work through the use of social science for public benefit. This includes substantial contributions and leadership in higher education, government, public health and social policy, funding councils, charitable foundations and think tanks.’


Youth research

Our youth research focuses on the ways young people respond to – and create – new conditions of social and economic life in the 21st century. We explore the meanings and impacts of globalisation, new media and technology, the new transitions environment and shifts in work/study patterns, relationships and self-identity and citizenship for youth today.

Dr Steve Roberts researches and publishes on how social class and gender shape, influence and constrain young people’s experiences of and aspirations for education, employment, housing, consumption and the domestic sphere. His most recent research projects include investigations into the shifting nature of youthful masculinities and also a study of youth homelessness in a relatively affluent suburb of Melbourne.

Internationally recognised in the sociological study of youth and young adulthood, Steve is often called upon to advise on methods and findings from policy-related research and to offer commentary on international youth-related issues. Recent examples include advice to the UK’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission on research into youth employment destinations, advocacy for the charity World Vision and also analysis of the challenges facing the ‘millennial generation’ for eFM Radio South Korea. 

Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett is developing new research avenues in response to Australia’s diverse and changing international student population. She holds an ARC Post Doctoral Fellowship and is undertaking a project entitled International Student Safety from Crime.  Helen’s work has recently been presented to the Australian Government House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, Parliament House. She is co-author of International Student Security (Cambridge University Press) and has a forthcoming book (with McCulloch and Nyland) entitled International Students and Crime (Palgrave MacMillan). 

Associate Professor Jo Lindsay  researches young people’s consumption and leisure practices, and has also undertaken major research projects on young workers and health risks in their social lives, and youth sexual health knowledge and practices. She is currently working on a large national project on young people and alcohol consumption

Dr Kirsten McLean researches issues surrounding inclusion and diversity in higher education, and has an ongoing research interest in young people and sexualities.

Professor Zlatko Skrbis is undertaking a large-scale ARC-funded longitudinal study into the Social Futures and Life Pathways of Young People in Queensland, known as the ‘Our Lives’ project, and holds an ARC Linkage grant for a project on Social Networks, Belonging and Active Citizenship among Migrant Youth in Australia.


Diversity research

Diversity is a strong and dynamic research theme in Sociology. We undertake research on cultural diversity in many forms including multiculturalism, migration and religious and sexual diversity. 

In recent years new projects focused on multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and diversity have strengthened our research impact.  Professor Zlatko Skrbis‘ work on contemporary cities and cosmopolitanism and Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett‘s investigation of the experiences of international students sit at the cutting edge of current debates on diversity and social inclusion.

Multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism

skrbisProfessor Zlatko Skrbis has a distinguished international research profile. He is renowned for his work in the fields of migration, cosmopolitanism, social theory and life-course studies. Zlatko’s most recent projects include Social Futures and Life Pathways of Young People in Queensland, and Cosmopolitan Encounters in Contemporary Australia.



Associate Professor Dharma Arunachalam conducts research on social cohesion in Australia and international migration through predominantly quantitative methods. His work also explores family and household structures, fertility and partnering in Australia, religion, aging and health. His current research on India focuses on child malnutrition, poverty and social/cultural institutions.

Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett focuses on issues concerning international students. She holds an ARC Post Doctoral Fellowship and is undertaking a project entitled International Student Safety from Crime, which is currently an issue of major international concern. Helen’s work has recently been presented to the Australian Government House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, Parliament House. She is co-author of International Student Security (Cambridge University Press) and has a forthcoming book (with McCulloch and Nyland) entitled International Students and Crime (Palgrave MacMillan). Helen is developing new research avenues in response to Australia’s diverse and changing international student population.

Religious diversity


Sociology is home to the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific 2005, held by Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Gary Bouma. Professor Bouma’s research has primarily focussed on the interaction between religion and society in Western societies including Canada, The United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Current work includes a major study of religious plurality in multicultural Australia which makes strategic comparisons with other societies; research into the management of religious diversity and continuing work on Post-Modernity as a context for interfaith dialogue and theological reflection.

singleton-spiritDr Andrew Singleton is undertaking research on The Afterlife in a secular age. The project considers belief in the afterlife in an era of widespread secularisation and spiritual diversity. Andrew has published widely on a diverse range of topics relating to religion. Andrew’s forthcoming book, Religion, Culture and Society (SAGE), looks at religious diversity worldwide. He is also co-author of The Spirit of Generation Y, the book about the first national Australian study of youth and religion.

Linked research

Diversity and gender – Sexual diversity

Dr Mark Davis researches the intersections of sexual difference and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. He has written on the psychosocial aspects of gay men’s sexual health and for people living with HIV.

Diversity and health

Professor Alan Petersen has a long standing research interest in inequalities in health, having undertaken research on various topics in this field in Australia and UK over a period of more than 20 years. He is particularly interested in the impacts of neoliberal policies on the provision and experiences of healthcare. His books in this field include: In a Critical Condition: Health and Power Relations in Australia (Allen & Unwin); Health Matters: A Sociology of Illness, Prevention and Care (Allen & Unwin) (edited with Charles Waddell) and Just Health: Inequalities in Illness, Care and Prevention (edited with Charles Waddell).


Health research

Health is a strong and long-established research theme for the Sociology programme. We undertake research on health and medical technologies; health and illness experiences; public health, and; disability and injury rehabilitation.

Health and medical technologies


Professor Alan Petersen has an international reputation as a health sociologist, with a focus on genetics and medicine (including media portrayals of innovations), genomics and public health, nanotechnologies, and stem cell treatments. He is sole CI on a newly funded ARC Discovery Project, ‘How do expectations shape testing in healthcare: A sociological study’ ($386,500). The first of its kind in Australia, the project investigates the factors shaping optimistic expectations for particular tests and for testing in general in healthcare. He is also lead CI on another ARC Discovery Project: ‘High hopes, high risk?: a sociological study of stem cell tourism’. ($239,00; plus $90,000 private benefactor grant for a PhD ‘Science in Society’ Studentship). This project investigates the expectations and experiences of those travelling overseas for stem cell treatments. It involves interviews with patients and carers, an analysis of online materials available to those contemplating treatments, and fieldwork at Chinese and Indian clinics and hospitals offering treatments.

Health and illness experience

Dr Davis has an international standing in close-focus qualitative research on HIV, hepatitis C and pandemic influenza. He leads an international, interdisciplinary team with Stephenson, N (UNSW) & Flowers, P (Glasgow Caledonian University) on an ARC Discovery Project: Pandemic influenza: people, policy, science (ARC Discovery Project: $293,000). This project investigates general public, public health and scientific responses to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. It provides an evidence base for improved public health practice regarding pandemic influenza.

Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic is a Monash Fellow and internationally renowned sociologist of health and illness, whose work focuses primarily on qualitative research into health and illness experiences. She leads the Health in Society Research Network (HiSNet): a unique interdisciplinary research program that uses phenomenological, discursive and narrative-oriented qualitative methodologies to undertake critical social inquiry into health and illness experiences in the contemporary world. Renata is a Co-director (with A/Professor Lorraine Smith, The University of Sydney) of Healthtalk Australia (http://healthtalkaustralia.org/).

Associate Professor Kokanovic’s research program incorporates several interdisciplinary projects, with a particular focus on phenomenology of mental illness. These include: ARC LP ‘Personal experiences of depression and recovery’ with Sue Ziebland (Oxford University) and Jane Gunn (UoM); ARC LP ‘Supported decision making for people diagnosed with psychosis, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder’ with Professor Bernadette McSherry, Professor Helen Hermann and Dr Lisa Brophy (UoM); and ARC DP ‘Experience of addiction and recovery with Associate Professor Suzanne Frazer, Professor David Moore (Curtin University) and Professor Carla Treloar (UNSW). Through these projects and associated work, HisNet is creating a unique set of online resources dedicated to people’s lived experiences of a wide range of health/illness conditions. These online resources use narrative research to provide targeted support for people experiencing health/illness conditions, and to transform care experiences by influencing policy, practice and education.

Culture, diversity and social construction of mental illness

A/ Prof Renata Kokanovic, has a significant track record in interdisciplinary, collaborative research on culture and emotional distress, with a particular focus on narrative research on cultural meanings of ‘mental illness’ and cross-cultural medical encounters between doctors and their patients.

Social media and health technologies

97802305256274Dr Davis leads a program of research on ‘Sex, health and technology’ and is establishing international collaboration on sexual health’s new technologies. Funding for this program was awarded by the Monash Research Accelerator ($80,000) in acknowledgment of Dr Davis’s growing international reputation in this field of research.

A/Professor Kokanovic brings to her research expertise in innovative qualitative methodologies, a commitment to novel modes of research participation, dissemination of findings and knowledge transfer. Her healthtalkonline website is highly accessed and presents a significant resource for people with experiences of health and illness.

Public health and health promotion

Public health is one of the research themes at Monash sociology. Professor Petersen and Associate Professor JaneMaree Maher are co-investigators with Fraser, S. (Lead CI), Maher, S. and Wright, J. on ‘Improving Australia’s response to childhood obesity: Prevention education and its impact on mothers and families (ARC DP: $90,000).

Associate Professor Jo Lindsay is part of a large study on Alcohol and harm minimisation among Australian university students project with Toni Schofield and Rose Leontini University of Sydney, Julie Hepworth, University of Queensland, Tara McGee, Griffith University and John Germov University of Newcastle. This ARC Linkage project with industry partners the Victorian Health Department, NSW Health Department and University Colleges Australia is the largest ever study of university students’ alcohol use and harm minimisation practices within Australia.

Disability and injury rehabilitation

This is an emerging research theme at Monash Sociology. Professor Petersen is also a co-investigator with Collie, A. (Lead CI), Vogel, A, Keleher, H, McClure, R., Ellis, N on ‘Determining the individual, community and societal impacts of compensable injury’ (ARC Linkage: $320,000, plus $250,000 partner contribution—Transport Accident Commission, WorkSafe, Comcare). The project examines the social, community and individual impacts of compensable injury. It involves collaborations with scholars in the Faculty of Medicine, the Institute for Safety Compensation and Recovery Research, and organisations in the traffic accident and workplace injury compensation field.

Alan is also a co-investigator with Lowe, I (Lead CI) and Dodds, S. on ‘A framework for assessing the social, economic and environmental impacts of new and emerging technologies’ (Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education: $86,000). This project was commissioned by DIISRTE and the findings will inform Federal Government responses to new and emerging technologies.


Gender research

Gender is a major research theme for staff in Sociology. We undertake research on gender and youth, gender and families and gender and sexuality.

AProf Jo Lindsay is currently working on a large national project on young people and alcohol consumption and gender dynamics around drinking is a crucial element of this project.

Gender and families

Sociology staff specialise in research on families, relationships and intimate life. AProf JaneMaree Maher and Prof Alan Petersen are conducting a project childhood obesity, mothers and public health.

clip_image002Consuming Families: Buying, making, producing family life in the 21st century (Routledge 2013) is a book just published by Associate Professors Jo Lindsay and JaneMaree Maher, drawing on a decade of gender, family and consumption research. Consumption is central battleground in public debates over morality, excess and gendered responsibility. These contests are particularly critical for contemporary families in Western nations, where excesses of goods, the paucity of time, and changing relational structures are altering family life. Families have always been key sites for consumption and in recent decades, contests over childhood obesity, the sexualisation of children, the media practices of children and teenagers, and young people’s use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs have dominated media and public policy discussions of family life in Western nations. Issues of responsibility, parental control and children and young people as active agents in a consumer world are central in the social policy, educational and health realms.

Jo Lindsay is interested in contemporary kinship and new family forms. With Deb Dempsey (Swinburne) she is conducting research on the significance of family names to Australian parents. An article in The Age previews some of our findings on the ‘patriarchal dividend’ of heterosexual surnaming practices  ‘Most women say I do’ .

AProf Dharma Arunachalam undertakes research on fertility, partnering and migration and his current research on India focuses on child malnutrition, poverty and social/cultural institutions.

Gender and sexuality

davis-sex-technology-public-healthDr Mark Davis undertakes research on the sexual practices and intimate lives of people affected by infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. He is a recipient of a Monash Research Accelerator award which is being devoted to the development of an international collaborating research network on the articulations of biomedical, social media and psy-discipline ‘technologies’ with sexual identities and practices. Mark is also co-investigator on NHS-funded research examining social media sexual networking amongst gay men.

JaneMaree Maher has recently published a book with Sharon Pickering and Alison Gerard on sex work. Sex Work (Routledge 2013) focused on women’s mobility in sex work and how regulatory ambivalence about the sexual services impacts on women’s agency and conditions.

ShowJacketJaneMaree Maher has also recently published Vanity: 21st Century Selves with Claire Tanner and Suzanne Fraser. Exploring a range of sites of social and cultural production – from Helen Mirren’s red bikini to The Biggest Loser reality weight loss show, from suffragists to Viagra, from anti-ageing medicine to Facebook – the book takes an engaging, sophisticated and wide-ranging look at new ideas and practices of vanity. How are contemporary subjects to cope with concurrent pressures both towards self-absorption and away from it? Taking an explicitly gendered approach to these questions, Vanity: 21st Century Selves conducts a broad analysis of a key concept shaping contemporary Western societies and their ways of understanding the self.

Linked research

Gender and health

Prof Alan Petersen has a long-standing interest in the construction of sex/gender and men and masculinities. He has written a number of books on gender relations: Unmasking the Masculine: ‘Men’ and ‘Identity’ in a Sceptical Age (Routledge, 1998), Engendering Emotions (Routledge, 2004). His most recent book in the field is Aging Men, Masculinities and Modern Medicine (Routledge, 2013) (co-edited with Antje Kampf and Barbara Marshall).

Gender and diversity

Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett is currently developing research on international students and gender related crime.




In Monash Sociology we explore the relationship between people and their natural and built environments. To address sustainability challenges such as climate change, rapid urbanisation, resource limitations and ecological degradation, it is now recognised that both social and technical solutions are needed. Our key research questions are;

How can we enhance the resilience and liveability of our cities?
How do we strategically manage the transition to sustainable futures?
How can community, government and industry co-create better environmental outcomes?
How can we curb overconsumption?

We have particular expertise in water governance, societal transitions and community processes. Our research is part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities and the Australia-Indonesia Centre.

Researchers and links to projects

Briony Rogers: Mapping water sensitive city scenarios, Developing leapfrogging pathways towards water sensitive cities
Jo Lindsay: Understanding social processes to achieve water sensitive cities
Sian Supski: Understanding social processes to achieve water sensitive cities

PhD researchers and projects

Paul Satur: Social inequality and water sensitive cities
Delia Paul: Drivers, barriers and incentives for sustainable water management in Johor state, Malaysia
Wikke Novalia: The scope for strategic action in developing urban water sectors
Vanessa Copa-Torrez: Developing Asian cities leapfrogging towards sustainable urban water management
Francesco Gimelli: Just urban water development: Fostering the capabilities of the marginalised in India
Tahmina Yasmin: Water Sensitive Cities in developing countries: identifying opportunities by diagnosing institutional path dependencies
Erika Duncan-Horner: From inadequate sanitation to water sensitive cities: Transforming developing cities with Social Innovations