Accessibility statement

Sarah Nettleton
Emeritus Professor



After graduating in Social Studies from the University of Newcastle in 1982, I spent some time unemployed before getting a Manpower Services Commission (as it then was) funded post as a 'researcher' at Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in the Lake District - the area in which I had spent the first eighteen years of my life.

I next gained employment as a research officer in the Directorate of Housing in Tower Hamlets in the East End of  London. From there I secured a three-year research contract at King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry, based in Camberwell in South London. I worked at King’s for three years on a sociological study of dentistry, for which I also gained a PhD.

I then had spells of unemployment, some contract research work and part-time tutoring at various London colleges and medical schools until I was appointed to a temporary lecturing post at the University of Surrey in 1989. In 1990 I returned to Newcastle to take up a permanent lectureship at the Polytechnic (as it then was). I joined the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at York in 1993. In October 2006 I transferred to the Department of Sociology at York.



Sarah Nettleton is a medical sociologist with a broad range of research interests. She has undertaken research into topics such as: health promotion; medically unexplained symptoms; lay people's use of e-health resources; food allergies; the working lives of medical doctors; running; and recovering heroin users. Her particular interests are in the sociology of the body and developing an embodied sociology.

nettleton run thumbnail


My research interests are broad but I would be particularly keen to supervise PhDs students who employ qualitative methods to study areas within:

  • the sociology of health, illness and medicine.
  • the sociology of the medical profession
  • experiences of illness, food, allergies and running
  • sociology of the body and embodiment


Selected publications


  • Nettleton, S. (2013) Sociology of Health and Illness Cambridge, Polity Press, 2013. Third Edition
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S. & Pickering, L. (2012) The Everyday Lives of Recovering Heroin Users, London, RSA
  • Taylor, K., Nettleton, S. and Harding, G. (2003) Sociology for Pharmacists London, Taylor and Francis
  • Ford, J. Burrows, R. and Nettleton, S. (2001) Home Ownership in a Risk Society: A Social Analysis of Mortgage Arrears and Possession, Bristol, Policy Press
  • Nettleton, S. (1992) Power, Pain and Dentistry Buckingham, Open University Press

Edited collections

  • Twigg, J., Wolkowitz, C., Cohen, R. L. and Nettleton, S. (2011) (eds) Body Work in Health and Social Care: critical themes and agendas Wiley-Blackwell
  • Jutel, A. and Nettleton, S. (2011) Sociology of Diagnosis Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine vol 73 issue 6.
  • Nettleton, S. and Gustafsson, U. (eds) (2002) The Sociology of Health and Illness Reader, Cambridge, Polity Press
  • Nettleton, S. and Watson, J. (eds) (1998) The Body in Everyday Life London: Routledge
  • Bunton, R., Nettleton, S. and Burrows, R. (eds) (1995) The Sociology of Health Promotion: Critical Analyses of Consumption, Lifestyle and Risk London, Routledge
  • Harding, G., Nettleton, S, and Taylor, K. (eds) (1994) Social Pharmacy: Innovation and Development London: Pharmaceutical Press.

Full publications list

Selected articles and chapters

  • Locock, L., Nettleton, S., Kirkpatrick, S., Ryan, S., & Ziebland, S. (2016). ‘I knew before I was told’: Breaches, cues and clues in the diagnostic assemblage. Social Science & Medicine, 154, 85-92.
  • Buse, C., Nettleton, S. J., Martin, D., & Twigg, J. (2016). Imagined bodies: Architects and their constructions of later life. Ageing and society.
  • Lian, O and Nettleton (2015) 'United We Stand'. Framing Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in a Virtual Symbolic Community Qualitative Health Research. 25(10) 1383–1394
  • Martin, D., Nettleton, S., Buse, C., Prior, L., and Twigg, J. (2015) Architecture and Health Care a Place for Sociology Sociology of Health & Illness 37 (7) 1007–1022
  • Nettleton, S. (2015). Fell runners and walking walls: towards a sociology of living landscapes and aesthetic atmospheres as an alternative to a Lakeland picturesque. The British Journal of Sociology, 66 (4), 759-778.
  • Yon, K., Nettleton, S., Walters, K., Lamahewa, K., & Buszewicz, M. (2015). Junior doctors’ experiences of managing patients with medically unexplained symptoms: a qualitative study. BMJ open, 5(12), e009593. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009593
  • Nettleton, S., & Green, J. (2014). Thinking about changing mobility practices: how a social practice approach can help. Sociology of health & illness, 36(2), 239-251.
  • Nettleton, S., Kitzinger, J., & Kitzinger, C. (2014). A diagnostic illusory? The case of distinguishing between “vegetative” and “minimally conscious” states. Social Science & Medicine, 116, 134-141.
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S., & Pickering, L. (2014). Gender sameness and difference in recovery from heroin dependence: A qualitative exploration. International Journal of Drug Policy. 25 (1) 3-12
  • Uprichard, E., Nettleton, S., & Chappell, P. (2013). ‘Food hates’ over the life course: an analysis of food narratives from the UK Mass Observation Archive. Appetite, 71, 137-143.
  • Nettleton, S. (2013) Cementing Relations within a Sporting Field: fell running in the English Lake District and the Acquisition of Existential Capital. Cultural Sociology 7(2) 196–210
  • Nettleton, S., Neale, J. & Pickering, L. (2013) “I just want to be normal” an analysis of discourses of normality among recovering heroin users. Health 17 (2) 174–190
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S., & Pickering, L. (2013) Does recovery-oriented treatment prompt heroin users prematurely into detoxification and abstinence programmes? A Qualitative study. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 127( 1–3) 163–169
  • Pickering, L. Neale, J. and Nettleton, S. (2013) Recovering a Fecal Habitus: Analyzing Heroin Users’ Toilet Talk. Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness 32 (2) 32(2):95-108
  • Nettleton, S., Neale, J. and Stevenson, C. (2012) Sleeping at the margins: a qualitative study of homeless drug users who stay in emergency hostels and shelters. Critical Public Health 22 (3) 319-328
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S. & Pickering, L. (2012) ‘Heroin users’ views and experiences of physical activity, sport and exercise.’ International Journal of Drug Policy 23 2 120-127
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S., Pickering, L. and Fischer, J. (2012) 'Eating patterns amongst heroin users: a qualitative study with implications for nutritional interventions.' Addiction.107: 635–641
  • Nettleton, S. and Uprichard, E., (2011) 'A Slice of Life': Food Narratives and Menus from Mass-Observers in 1982 and 1945. Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 5
  • Nettleton, S., Neale, J. and Pickering, L.(2011) "I don't think there's much of a rational mind in a drug addict when they are in the thick of it": towards an embodied analysis of recovering heroin users. Sociology of Health & Illness 33 (3) 341–355, 2011
  • Nettleton, S., Neale, J. and Pickering, L. (2011) Techniques and transitions: A sociological analysis of sleeping practices amongst recovering heroin users. Social Science & Medicine 72 (8) 1367-1373
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S. and Pickering, L. (2011) ‘What is the role of harm reduction when drug users say they want abstinence? Commentary.’ International Journal of Drug Policy 22 (3) 189-193
  • Twigg, J., Wolkowitz, C., Cohen, R. and Nettleton, S. (2011) ‘Conceptualising Body Work in Health and Social Care.’ in J. Twigg, C. Wolkowitz, R. Cohen and S. Nettleton, Sociology of Health and Illness Special Issue -‘Body Work’ 33 (2) 171–188.
  • Jutel, A. and Nettleton, S. (2011) ‘Towards a sociology of diagnosis: Reflections and opportunities’ Social Science & Medicine 73(6):793-800.
  • Nettleton, S., Woods, B., Burrows, R. and Kerr, A. (2010) Experiencing Food Allergy and Food Intolerance: An Analysis of Lay Accounts Sociology 44, 2, 289-305, 2010
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S. and Pickering, L. (2010) Recovery From Problem Drug Use: What Can We Learn From The Sociologist Erving Goffman?"Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy 18 (1) 3-9.
  • Nettleton, S. (2010) ‘The Sociology of the Body’ in W. Cockerham (ed) The New Blackwell Companion to Medical Sociology Oxford, Blackwell.
  • Kerr, A., Woods, B., Nettleton, S. and Burrows, R. (2009) Testing for Food Intolerance: New Markets in the Age of Biocapital BioSocieties: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Social Studies of Life Sciences 4 3-24.
  • Nettleton, S. (2009) Commentary: The appearance of new medical cosmologies and the re-appearance of sick and healthy men and women: a comment on the merits of social theorising International Journal of Epidemiology 38 633-636
  • Nettleton, S., Woods, B., Burrows, R. and Kerr, A. (2009) Food Allergy and Food Intolerance: Towards a Sociological Agenda Health 13 647-664

Publications before 2009

Sarah Nettleton

Contact details

Professor Sarah Nettleton
Emeritus Professor
Department of Sociology
University of York