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Robert Dingwall

Robert Dingwall


School of Social Sciences

Staff Group(s)
Social and Political Sciences


Robert Dingwall is a part-time Professor in the School of Social Sciences supporting research and professional development. He may also undertake PhD supervision and provides a small contribution at MA level. For the rest of his time, he is a consulting sociologist through his own company.

Professor Dingwall works part-time at NTU and is not normally available by telephone. Please use email to contact him.

Career overview

Robert Dingwall has previously worked mainly in research centres at the Universities of Aberdeen, Oxford and Nottingham. He began his career with a PhD in medical sociology and then contributed to developing the sociology of law as a field of research in the UK. He was latterly Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham, where he founded the Institute for Science and Society, which was an interdisciplinary research group investigating issues in science, technology and society. This initially focussed on developments in genetics and biosciences but later extended its interest to ICT, energy and climate change.

Research areas

Robert Dingwall has wide international experience in research, particularly in the study of law, medicine, science and technology. In this, he has focussed mainly on issues about professions, work and organizations, and about their face to face interaction with their clients or users. He has also written on social theory, research ethics and qualitative research methods. His projects have included studies of agency decision-making in child protection, the history of nursing, divorce mediation, asbestos disease litigation, medical negligence, the treatment of evolution in TV wildlife programmes and innovations in the delivery of pharmaceutical and genetic services. He is currently investigating social technologies for stabilizing the future, particularly in the context of transport and energy use and continuing to write on topics in research ethics and organization studies. His previous work on pandemic planning  has led to extensive government and media-related engagement in response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.


  • Medical
  • Science and Technology
  • Professions, Work and Organisations
  • Language and Social Interaction

Socio-Legal Studies:

  • Health
  • Family
  • Civil Justice
  • Regulation

Robert Dingwall's consulting work is carried out exclusively through his own company, Dingwall Enterprises.

Robert Dingwall has supervised more than 30 PhD students to successful completion, using qualitative methods to investigate a wide range of topics in medical sociology, socio-legal studies and science and technology studies (STS).

Topics have included:

  • Governing Pandemic Influenza 1889-2009: An Account of England's Legal and Administrative Encounter with a Disease
  • Professions and the Public Interest: A Comparative Study on the Moral Division of Labour in Medical Practice in Burkina Faso
  • Saudi Food Inspector: A focused Ethnographic Study in Regulation and Law Enforcement.
  • Understanding Leadership in Healthcare: The case of the English Children's Services Networks
  • Between Magic and Reason: Science in 19th-Century Popular Fiction
  • The Evolution of Regulatory Strategies in Relation to Nicotine Products and Their Implications for Product Innovation and Harm Reduction
  • The Ethics of Policy, a Policy of Ethics: the political stabilisation of oocytes exchanges in China, California and the UK
  • Contested Authorities: Accountability Reform and the Changing Nature of Relations of Authority in Academia

External activity

  • Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences.
  • Honorary Member, Faculty of Public Health
  • Member, New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG)
  • Member, DHSC Moral and Ethical Advisory Group (MEAG)

Sponsors and collaborators

Robert Dingwall's previous research has been supported by around £7.1 million at current values in competitive funding from the Leverhulme and Wellcome Trusts, ESRC, NERC, MRC, EPSRC, BBSRC, EU and various NHS / NIHR programmes. He has also received commissions from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Food Standards Agency. Robert has held visiting positions with the American Bar Foundation in Chicago and McGill University in Montreal. Current or recent consultancy clients include the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), BBSRC, ESRC, the RCUK Digital Economy programme, and the European Commission Concerted Action PRO-RES on research integrity.

Press expertise

  • Pandemics
  • Infectious diseases
  • Public health
  • Organisational aspects of health care
  • Health policy
  • Bioethics
  • Reproduction
  • Research and science policy
  • Research ethics
  • Open access publishing
  • Families and the law
  • Law and health care
  • Compensation
  • Courts
  • Science and society
  • Scientific ethics
  • New technologies
  • Scientific misconduct
  • Transport futures
  • Transport planning
  • New energy sources for transport.