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Sociology Research


Professor Sarah Franklin moved from the London School of Economics to take up the Chair of Sociology at Cambridge in October 2011. In 2012 she received awards from the Wellcome Trust, ESRC, and British Academy to establish the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) which has since gone on to become one of the leading research centres in the rapidly expanding field of reproductive studies.

Franklin was among the first researchers to begin to analyse the forms of social change associated with the introduction of new reproductive technologies in the 1980s. Since completing her PhD research on IVF at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in 1989, she has published extensively on the social aspects of new reproductive technologies. In addition to assisted conception technologies, Franklin has conducted fieldwork on cloning, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), and human embryonic stem cell derivation. Her research combines ethnographic methods with science studies, gender theory, and the study of kinship and she has contributed to a number of emergent fields in social theory including the 'new kinship studies', the feminist analysis of science, the anthropology of biomedicine, and reproductive studies. She has helped to establish several new fields in the social sciences including the 'new kinship studies', the social study of new reproductive technologies, and the cultural analysis of bioscience, biomedicine and biotechnology.

Franklin's first academic posts were in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester and the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. In1993 she moved to a fulltime position at Lancaster where she was promoted to Chair in the Anthropology of Science in 2001. In 2004 she moved to London School of Economics where she was Professor of Social Studies of Biomedicine and Associate Director of the BIOS Centre until 2011. She has held Visiting professorships at the University of California, the University of Tarragona, the University of Hannover, New York University and the University of Sydney. Her research has been supported by the ESRC, Leverhulme Trust, MRC, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, European Commission, British Academy, Mellon Foundation, Philomathia Foundation, ERC and the Wellcome Trust. Throughout her career she has worked closely with clinicians, patients, scientists and policymakers in an attempt to widen sociological engagement with emerging issues in bioscience and biomedicine. She is a Fellow of Christ's College, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and The Royal Society of Biology as well as a Smith College Alumnae and Medallist (2011). In addition to directing the Reproductive Sociology Research Group, Franklin is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, co-Editor of the journal Reproductive Biomedicine and Society, and Chair of the Anne McLaren Trust

Research Interests

Franklin's current research concerns the early history of UK IVF and she has worked closely with colleagues in the history of science as well as reproductive biology to develop new interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the intersection between reproduction and technology. Through her work on IVF, Franklin has developed new theories of both biology and technology, focussing on the use of biological tools, and the relativization of the category 'biological'. This model, of biological relativity, is the subject of her most recent book and builds on her previous introduction of the terms 'transbiology', 'embodied progress', and 'hope technologies'.



SOC4: Concepts and arguments in Sociology

SOC6: Advanced social theory

SOC10: Gender

Graduate supervision availability and interests:

Sarah is available to supervise graduate students on topics including Sociology of Gender, Reproduction and Kinship, Science and Technology Studies, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Bioscience

Current Doctoral students:

Tian Tian Chen

Katie Hammond

Karen Jent

Gavin Stevenson

Melisa Trujillo

Key Publications - Books

Franklin, S. 2013. Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells and the Future of Kinship. Duke University Press. 

Franklin, S., 20006. Born and Made: an ethnography of preimplantation genetic diagnosis Princeton University Press, with Celia Roberts.

Franklin, S., 2006. Off-Centre: feminism and cultural studies, Second Edition, Routledge, with J. Stacey and C. Lury.

Franklin, S. 2003. Remaking Life and Death: toward an anthropology of the biosciences SAR Press, ed. with Margaret Lock.

Franklin, S., 2001. Relative Values: reconfiguring kinship study Duke University Press, ed. With Susan McKinnon.

Franklin, S., 2000. Global Nature, Global Culture Sage, with C. Lury and J. Stacey.

Franklin, S. (2016) Special Issue of Reproductive Medicine and Society Online: 'IVF- Global Histories', Elsevier/Open Access

Franklin, S. (ed.). 2016. Before and After Gender: sexual mythologies in everyday life, 311 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9861325-3-7

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Franklin, S. (2016) 'The Riddle of Gender'. In Strathern (ed.) Before and After Gender: sexual mythologies of everyday life. Chicago: Hau Press, pp. xiiv -xlv.

Franklin, S. (2015) 'The Sociology of Reproductive Technology'. In David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton, (eds.) Big Ideas in Social Science London: Sage, pp. 53-62, ISBN 978-1-4739-0

Franklin, S. (2015) 'Foucault et les transformations du biopouvoir'. In Pestre, D (ed.), Histoire des Sciences et des Savoirs, Paris: Seuil.

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Franklin, S. (2019) Developmental Landmarks and the Warnock Report: A Sociological Account of Biological Translation. Comparative Studies in Society and History 2019;61(4):743–773.

Franklin, S. and Inhorn, M. (2016). 'Introduction: IVF-Global Histories' , Reproductive Biomedicine an Society Online 2:1-7

Franklin, S. (2015) Sexism as a Means of Reproduction: some reflections on feminism in the academy, New Formations, 86: 14-33

Franklin, S. (2014) Analogic Return: The Reproductive Life of Conceptuality. Theory, Culture & Society Vol 31, Issue 2-3, 2014

Franklin, S. Stem Cell Stories 1998-2008 Special Issue of Science as Culture Vol. 17, No. 1, ed. with Ingrid Geesink and Barbara Prainsack (2008). 

Franklin, S. Stem Cell Technologies 1998-2008: Controversies and Silence, Special Issue of Science as Culture, Vol 17, No. 4, ed. with Barbara Prainsack and Ingrid Geesink (2008) 

Grants and Projects

Franklin, S. (PI) and van de Wiel, L., (CI) ‘Life in Glass’: a programme of public engagement. Wellcome Trust Provision Award (2015-2018): £222,999.00

Smietana, M. (PI) and Franklin, S (SD). SurrogARTs Project. European Commission (EC) Marie Curie Award (2013-2016): €239,282

Franklin, S. (PI) Fertilization Through the Looking Glass: a sociology of IVF in the late-twentieth century. Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award 100606/Z/12/Z (2013-2018): £992,748

Franklin, S. (PI)  IVF Cultures and Histories. ESRC Research Grant ES/LOO1209/1 (2013-2015): £30,327

Franklin, S. (PI) The IVF History Project. British Academy Research Grant (2012): £25,000

Franklin, S. 01/10/13-30/09/16 ‘(In)fertility, Education and Reproductive Health’ Philomathia Foundation, £200,000.00, Prof S Franklin and Prof J Scott, co-PIs 

Franklin, S. 15/06/11-14/02/12 ‘Final Deposit of 28 Interviews from Wellcome Funded Project History of Mammalian Developmental Biology in the UK’ Medical Humanities Small Grant 096679/Z/11/Z £6000.00, S Franklin PI, with Martin Johnson and Nick Hopwood Co-apps. 

Franklin, S. 01/04/08- 31/03/10 'History of mammalian development in the UK: 1945-present' awarded to Professor Martin Johnson (PI), Professor Sarah Franklin and Dr Nick Hopwood, £20,016.00 Wellcome Trust History of Medicine Programme, Grant No. 084418. 

Franklin, S. 01/01/08 -01/12/08 Crossing Over - Arts Council of England (Grant for the Arts - £10,000) and Wellcome Trust (People Award Grant £26,975.00) Director and Curator: Catarina Albano

Franklin, S. Declined MRC Research Award, ‘Generation of GMP human embryonic stem cell lines’(King's College London, £1,520,535m, Principal Investigator Professor Peter Braude). 

Franklin, S. (CI) Ethical Frameworks for Embryo Donation: the views, values and practices of IVF/PGD Staff. Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Programme 081414/Z/06/Z (2007-2010): £199,005

Franklin, S. 01/07/07 – 31/07/08 Wellcome Trust Engaging Science Art Awards, ‘Future Mix: Transgenic Art Online’ (ArtAkt London, £18k, Principal Investigator Catarina Albano) 

Franklin, S. The IVF-Stem Cell Interface: a sociology of embryo transfer. ESRC Senior Research Fellowship (2007-2009): £282,238

Franklin, S. 01/09/06 – 31/08/09 Wellcome Trust Society Programme Research Grant ‘From Communication to Deliberation: Scientists Perspectives on Public Engagement’, Principal Investigator, (£220,757k).

Franklin, S. 01/10/02 – 01/10/07 Economic and Social Research Council, Centre for the Social and Economic Study of the New Genetics (CESAGen), Co-applicant, (£4.2m) 

Franklin, S. 1 July 2002 - 15 July 2003 Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics programme, 'PGD Patient's Understandings of Consent to Donate Embryos to Stem Cell Research' 069699/Z/02/Z (Research Expenses, 2.5k) 

Franklin, S. 1 February 2001 – 30 August 2002 Economic and Social Research Council and Medical Research Council, ‘Definitions of Genetic Knowledge: an ethnographic study of preimplantation genetic diagnosis’ Principal Investigator, (90k) 

Franklin, S. February 2001 Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Programme, Symposium Grant, 'Genetic Donation as "Gift" Economy', co-organised with Richard Tutton (2.5k) 

Franklin, S. May 2001 - July 2003 Leverhulme Trust Distinguished Visiting Professorship (to bring Professor Lauren Berlant to Lancaster for two three month periods, grant author and Berlant Committee Convenor, 38k) 

Franklin, S. (PI) ‘Life After Dolly': anthropological perspectives on cloning. Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (1999 - 2000): £28,000

Franklin, S. April 2000 School of American Advanced Seminar Grant, ‘Changing Definitions of Life and Death in the Context of Biomedicine: anthropological perspectives’, co-organised with Margaret Lock (approx USD 55k).

Franklin, S. 1999 Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Publication Grant, Relative Values: reconfiguring kinship studies (Duke University Press) (USD 7k). 

Franklin, S. 1997 Wenner Gren Foundation, International Symposium Grant, ‘The Future of Kinship: kinship theory revisited’ (Palma de Mallorca, Spain, with Susan McKinnon, approx USD 85k).

Franklin, S. 1994 Wenner Gren Foundation, Conference Grant, 'What's Blood Got To Do With It?: Kinship Reconsidered' (University of California, Santa Cruz) (USD 15k). 

Franklin, S. 1991-2 European Commission, 'Kinship and the New Genetic Technologies' (Principal Investigator, with M. Strathern) (Euros 47k).

Franklin, S. 1990-1 Economic and Social Research Council, 'The Representation of Kinship in the Context of the New Reproductive Technologies' (co-applicant with M. Strathern, PI, et al) (£67k). 

Franklin, S. 1986-9 British Council, Overseas Research Award (£5k fees assistance) 

Franklin, S. 1987-8 Wenner Gren Foundation, Doctoral Research Grant (USD 25k) 

Franklin, S. 1984-6 New York University, Development Fellowship (USD 60k)

Research Groups & Affiliations

Job Title:
Professor of Sociology, Fellow of Christ's College, Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator; Director, Reproductive Sociology Research Group; Chair, Anne McLaren Trust
Professor Sarah Franklin
Contact Information: