Nikolas Rose

Nikolas Rose

Nikolas Rose (born 1947 in London, UK) is a prominent British sociologist and social theorist. He is currently the James Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and acting director of LSE's BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society.

Nikolas Rose

Born 1947 (age 63–64)
United Kingdom
Residence United Kingdom
Nationality British
Fields Sociologist
Institutions London School of Economics
Goldsmiths, University of London
Brunel University


Life and work

Before joining LSE in 2002 as the Convenor of the Department of Sociology (2002–2006), he was previously Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, where he had been Head of the Department of Sociology, Pro-Warden for Research and Head of the Goldsmiths Centre for Urban and Community Research and Director of a major evaluation of urban regeneration in South East London.

Originally trained as a biologist, he has done extensive work on the history and sociology of psychiatry, on mental health policy and risk, and on the social implications of recent developments in psychopharmacology. He has also published widely on the genealogy of subjectivity, on the history of empirical thought in sociology, and on changing rationalities of political power. He is particularly known for his interpretation of the work of the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault and the revival of the literature on governmentality in the Anglo-American world.

His book, Governing the Soul: the shaping of the private self, is widely recognised as one of the founding texts in a new way of understanding and analysing the links between expertise, subjectivity and political power. He argues that the proliferation of the 'psy' disciplines has been intrinsically linked with transformations in governmentality, in the rationalities and technologies of political power in 'advanced and liberal democracies'. (See also governmentality for a description of Rose’s interpretations of Foucault’s writings).

For six years he was managing editor of Economy and Society, one of the UK’s leading interdisciplinary journal of social science, and he is now co-editor of BioSocieties: An interdisciplinary journal for social studies of the life sciences.

He was brought up in London in a Jewish family, the younger brother of Steven Rose, a prominent British neuroscientist.

In 1989, he founded the History of the Present Research Network, an international network of researchers whose work was influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault. Together with Paul Rabinow, he edited the Fourth Volume of Michel Foucault's Essential Works.

In December 2001, he was listed by The Guardian newspaper as one of the top five UK based social scientists, on the basis of a twenty year analysis of citations to research papers, and the most cited UK based sociologist.

He was awarded in 2007 an ESRC Professorial Research Fellowship - a three year project entitled 'Brain, Self and Society in the 21st Century'.[1]

More recently, the UK's Engineering and Physical Science Research Council has awarded the BIOS centre at the LSE and Imperial College £8 million to establish the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation, the first publicly-funded UK centre dedicated to synthetic biology which will be based at Imperial College.[2] Prof. Rose will be heading the team that will examine the social, ethical, legal and political dimensions of this emerging practice [3] and that will train researchers to examine the socio-economic impacts of biotechnology, and developing practices of regulation and good governance.[4]

Nikolas Rose is currently a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. He was a member of the Council’s Working Party on Medical profiling and online medicine: the ethics of 'personalised healthcare' in a consumer age (2008-2010).[5]

His work has been translated into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, German, Italian, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Romanian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Selected publications


  • The Psychological Complex: Psychology, Politics and Society in England, 1869-1939 (1985)
  • Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (1989, Second edition 1999)
  • Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power and Personhood (1996)
  • Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought (1999)
  • The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (2006)
  • Governing the Present: Administering Economic, Social and Personal Life, with Peter Miller (2008)

Chapters in edited collections (selected)

  • 'Writing the History of the Present', in Jonathan Joseph, ed., Social Theory: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005 (with Andrew Barry and Thomas Osborne) (Reprint of selections from Introduction to Foucault and Political Reason, 1996.)
  • 'Biological Citizenship', in Aihwa Ong and Stephen Collier, eds., Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics and Ethics as Anthropological Problems, pp. 439–463. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005 (with Carlos Novas)
  • Introduction to The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, New York: New Press, 2004 (with Paul Rabinow)
  • 'Becoming Neurochemical Selves', in Nico Stehr, ed., Biotechnology, Commerce and Civil Society, Transaction Press, 2004
  • 'The neurochemical self and its anomalies', in R. Ericson, ed., Risk and Morality, pp. 407–437. University of Toronto Press, 2003.
  • 'Power and psychological techniques', in Y. Bates and R. House, eds., Ethically Challenged Professions, pp. 27–46. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books, 2003.
  • 'Society, madness, and control', in A. Buchanan, ed., The Care of the Mentally Disordered Offender in the Community, pp. 3–25, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2001)
  • 'At Risk of Madness', in T. Baker and J. Simon, eds., Embracing Risk: The Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility, pp. 209–237, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2001)

Papers in refereed journals (selected)

  • 'Spatial Phenomenotechnics: Making space with Charles Booth and Patrick Geddes', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 2004, 22: 209-228 (Thomas Osborne).
  • 'Neurochemical selves', Society, November/December 2003, 41, 1, 46-59.
  • 'Kontroll', Fronesis, 2003, Nr. 14-15, 82-101.
  • 'The politics of life itself', Theory, Culture and Society (2001), 18(6): 1-30.
  • 'Genetic risk and the birth of the somatic individual', Economy and Society, Special Issue on configurations of risk (2000), 29 (4): 484-513. (with Carlos Novas).
  • 'The biology of culpability: pathological identities in a biological culture', Theoretical Criminology (2000), 4, 1, 5-34.


  1. ^ Brain Self and Society project, LSE
  2. ^ "Synthetic biology gets ethical ", Nature, May 2009,[1]
  3. ^ "Synthetic biology gets ethical", Nature, May 2009
  4. ^ "New centre launched to spearhead UK research in synthetic biology", LSE News, December 2008 [2]
  5. ^ Nuffield Council on Bioethics' official website-Medical profiling

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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