Researcher biography

Alex Broom is Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Sydney. He is recognised as an international leader in sociology, utilising highly innovative qualitative methodologies and social theory to provide novel understandings of the social, cultural, political and economic underpinnings of the key health challenges of the 21st Century. Within this work he is particularly interested in issues related to human subjectivities, vulnerability, social justice and solidarity. His current focus is on developing critical analyses of the social dynamics of cancer, palliative and end-of-life care and the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance across contexts and cultures.

He leads a team of social science researchers at The University of Sydney, and he is an investigator on over AU$17 million in competitive research grants, including 14 Australian Research Council (ARC) grants. He is Co-Director (and CIB) on the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance (2020-25), fostering innovate collaborations between researchers, universities and end-users to address the rise of AMR in Australia and beyond.

He has published over 250 publications including 14 books, and his recent books include Dying: A Social Perspective on the End of Life (Routledge, 2015), Bodies and Suffering: Emotions and Relations of Care (Routledge 2017, with Ana Dragojlovic), and, Survivorship: A Sociology of Cancer in Everyday Life (Routledge, forthcoming, with Katie Kenny).

In relation to his work on the sociology of cancer, palliative and end-of-life care, he has focused on tensions between the individual experience and collective practices/desires (e.g. The Sociological Review, 2016, 2017; The British Journal of Sociology, 2018; Sociology, 2007, 2015; Social Science & Medicine, 2010, 2013, 2017; Sociology of Health and Illness, 2013, 2016; Subjectivity, 2017), including how cultures of survival shape the very nature of illness and practices of recovery. This includes most recently a focus on the rise of precision medicine as manifest in cancer care settings, exploring the nexus of political, economic and professional priorities/ambitions, and the lived experience of 'precision' in everyday life (e.g. his ARC Discovery Project DP190100745 'Precision medicine and the Person').

In terms of his sociological work on antimicrobial resistance, he has focused on how the problem of AMR is deeply embedded in often opaque value/economic systems and forms of power (e.g. Social Science and Medicine, 2014; Social Science and Medicine, 2015; Qualitative Health Research, 2016; Qualitative Health Research, 2017; Social Theory and Health, 2018; Health and Place, 2017), and how change only becomes possible when these dimensions are made visible in and across institutions and national contexts (e.g. his Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP170100300 'Navigating an Uncertain Antimicrobial Future').

Having worked for over a decade on India related issues, he recently expanded this AMR social research program to India, with an ARC Discovery Project entitled 'Superbugs in India: Antimicrobial resistance, inequality and development' (DP190100823 with Assa Doron). This project explores the intersections of poverty, cultural practices and the rise of resistance (e.g. Critical Public Health, 2018).

He currently holds the following Honorary/Visiting Professorial positions:

  • Visiting Professor, King's College London (Department of Global Health and Social Medicine)
  • Visiting Professor, The University of Vienna (Department of Political Science)
  • Honorary Professor, The University of Queensland (UQ Social Science)

He is Associate Editor, Qualitative Health Research.