About Associate Professor Fran Collyer

My expertise is in both qualitative and quantitative methods, and my approach is informed by a sociological perspective and the sociological classics, as well as by my experience in academia, government, industry and the community sector. I am currently involved in two major programs of research, which follow the dual research interests that have shaped my career thus far.

The first focuses on the sociology of the healthcare sector, on health and medical knowledges, the relationship between the state and the private sector, the privatisation and contracting-out of public assets and services, the tensions inherent in marrying private with public services, and what this means for patients and health workers within the system. With regard to this dimension I have been researching the way patients navigate the healthcare system in Australia, particularly the way they might be forced to make choices between public and private services, and the role of the gatekeepers in this system.

The second focuses on the processes of knowledge-making: how knowledge is produced, transmitted, exchanged, bought and sold; the history of sociology and the social sciences; and the way disciplines and institutions have formed and changed over time. With regard to this dimension, I have been researching, as part of an international team, the global politics of knowledge; the inequalities in the production of knowledge in the global south; the role of universities in the global knowledge system; the impact of globalisation and neo-liberalism; and the nature of academic publishing and its role in global knowledge production. 
My earlier research, in which I continue to maintain an interest, has encompassed the invention and development of medical technologies (including sex-reassignment surgery and the cochlear implant), and the growing market in alternative and complementary medicines. 

My books include The Palgrave Handbook of Social Theory in Health, Illness and Medicine (2015, Macmillan), an edited collection which serves as a reference book about social theorists from the 19th century to the contemporary era, outlining their major theories and concepts and their utility in the sociology of health; Mapping The Sociology of Health and Medicine: America, Britain and Australia Compared (2012, Macmillan), which examines the political and institutional history of the sub-field of health and medical sociology; and, as co-author, Public Enterprise Divestment: Australian Case Studies (2001, University of Suva Press), which tells the story about the privatisation of several government enterprises, including the Port Macquarie Base Hospital.

I have supervised postgraduate students in the areas of health, welfare and medicine (including the marketisation and privatisation of health services), the sociology of risk, in gender and sexuality (and transsexuality), science and technology, urban transport and development, mental health, and youth studies. I welcome enquiries from postgraduate research students in these areas, but also in the history and institutional development of the academic disciplines, the processes of knowledge production and exchange in either national or global contexts, and the sociology of knowledge.

Selected publications

For a full list of publications, please see here.