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Dr Des Fitzgerald

Dr Des Fitzgerald

Senior Lecturer in Sociology

School of Social Sciences

+44 (0)29 2087 0695
2.35, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Available for postgraduate supervision

I am a sociologist of science and medicine, particularly interested in how neurobiological and psychological ideas get into wider society. My current research, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, is about the use of psychological and neurobiological knowledge in architecture and city planning. I'm interested in how we have come to think of cities as spaces that are sometimes psychologically bad for us, and in how planners and architects then try to re-engineer cities for the production of good mental health. I am also part of a much larger project looking at mental health among migrants in Shanghai.

In previous work, I have written about how neuroscientists produce knowledge about the autism spectrum (this was the topic of my first book), about the neuroscience of mind-wandering, and about how the social and neurobiological sciences get tangled up in one another more generally. On this last topic, I co-edited a handbook on biology and society, and (with Felicity Callard) have written a book and several papers about interdisciplinary research, and why it is more complicated and strange than people usually think. With Nikolas Rose, I‘m currently writing a new book under the provisional title, ‘Vital City,’ likely to appear in 2019/2020.

I studied at University College Cork (BA), the University of Cambridge (MPhil), and the London School of Economics (PhD). I was a winner of the Philip Leverhulme Prize for sociology in 2017, and am a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker in 2018. You can hear my essay for BBC Radio 3, 'A City is not a Park,' here: 

I'm from Cork! I did undergradate work in history and sociology at University College Cork, and was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge (MPhil in Social Anthropology) and the London School of Economics (PhD in Sociology). I did postdoctoral work at Aarhus University, King's College London, and Durham University, before coming to Cardiff in 2015. 

Honours and awards

Phlip Leverhulme Prize, 2017. 








I currently teach a on range of course in the sociology of health, illness and medicine; science and technology studies; and qualitative methods.

My research is currently focused on the following themes:

  • The history and present of the neurobiological and psychologial sciences.
  • Mental health in cities.
  • Interdisciplinarity, and connections between the biological and social sciences more generally.

I am happy to speak to students interested in working on:

  • The sociology of psychology and neuroscience.
  • Mental health in cities.
  • Any kind of interdisciplinary work between the social and life sciences.

All of my work is qualitative, and I am generally interested in exploring particular strands of social and cultural theory in my research.