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Michael Arribas-Ayllon

Dr Michael Arribas-Ayllon


School of Social Sciences

Media commentator


Michael's current research is tracing the subsequent developments of genomic technologies. One branch is pursuing the impact of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and the ways in which lay communities use and interpret genetic information. Another branch is interested in the politics of personalised medicine and the ways in which promises and expectations about the 'new biology' are mediated in expert and public domains.

Michael is also interested in public engagement as a means of reflecting upon and participating in the construction of scientific knowledge, perceptions of risk, and the joint imagining of technological futures. A persistent question he asks in relation to his research is: what does it mean to be human?

I welcome PhD applicants to work on topics related to my research interests, including medical sociology, science and technology studies and critical psychology as well as applicants with an interest in biopolitics, genetics and mental health.







  • Arribas-Ayllon, M. and Walkerdine, V. 2017. Foucauldian discourse analysis. In: Willig, C. and Stainton Rogers, W. eds. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology 2nd Edition. Sage, pp. 110-123.
  • Maureen, M., Arribas-Ayllon, M., Haran, J., Mackenzie, A. and Tutton, R. 2017. Conceptualizing imaginaries of science, technology and society. In: Felt, U. et al. eds. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies 4th Edition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 435-464.











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Michael's current research interests are oriented to three overlapping themes:

The politics of genetic responsibility: Advances in molecular genetics have not only expanded the domain of screening, testing and prevention but have generated new tensions and dilemmas regarding the management of genetic risk. In addition to creating persons who are 'genetically at risk', genetic technologies are shaping new rights and responsibilities and informing new practices of identification. To what extent are these technologies a continuation of advanced liberal rationalities? What kind of relations between experts and clients do they enjoin? What forms of citizenship, community and subjectivity do they engender? And to what extent does genetic knowledge transform what it means to be human?

The micropolitics of genetic testing: The increasing availability of genetic testing is shaping the ways in which medical information is communicated in the clinic. Given that the 'new genetics' is a science of contingency and genetic counselling is the art of managing and interpreting contingency, how do we understand the relations between experts and genetically at risk clients? What micro-techniques do experts employ to facilitate autonomy and transfer genetic responsibility? How do clients make sense of and respond to uncertain and complex risk information? What effect does genetic information have on practical family relations?

The promise of personalised medicine: A related issue is that advances in molecular genetics are rapidly converging with information technologies and thus promising greater personalisation of medical knowledge. At present, the hype surrounding 'personalised medicine' introduces new opportunities and tensions that resonate with neoliberal models of health consumerism. Will the new biology deliver a truly personalised medicine? Will genetic technologies revolutionise healthcare? How does personalised medicine differ from other kinds of medical utopias? What forms of community, citizenship and subjectivity are currently taking shape around these promises of individualised healthcare?


Michael joined the School in January 2004 to complete his doctorate after transferring from the University of Western Sydney. He holds an Honours degree in Philosophy and Social Psychology (University of Western Sydney) and a doctorate in Philosophy (Cardiff University).

In November 2005, Michael joined Cesagen (ERSC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics) to work on the social and ethical aspects of genomics. He has worked on numerous projects exploring parental accounts of genetic testing; the communication and disclosure of genetic risk in the family; professional accounts of ethical dilemmas in the clinic; and the representation of genetic testing in the public domain. He has also conducted research on psychiatric genetics and interviewed scientists about large-scale collaborative research.