Professor Nikolas Rose

Distinguished Honorary Professor
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences



Nikolas Rose was Professor of Sociology at King's College London from 2012 until his retirement in April 2021. He was the founding Head of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s and Co-Founder and Co-Director of King’s ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health, the UK’s first major research centre on the social dimensions of mental distress. Before moving to King’s, he was Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Head of the Department of Sociology from 2002 to 2006, and Director of the LSE's BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society, which he founded in 2003. Previously he was Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, where he was Head of the Department of Sociology, Pro-Warden for Research and Founding Head of the Goldsmiths Centre for Urban and Community Research. Nikolas was trained as a biologist before switching to psychology and then to sociology. He was a founding editor of Ideology and Consciousness (I&C) and the History of the Present Research Network, an international network of researchers influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault. From 1996 to 2004 he was managing editor of Economy and Society, one of Britain's leading scholarly interdisciplinary journals of social. He is founder and co-editor of BioSocieties: an interdisciplinary journal for social studies of the life sciences. He has published widely on the social and political history of the human sciences, on the genealogy of subjectivity, on the history of empirical thought in sociology, on law and criminology, and on changing rationalities and techniques of political power. His work has been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Danish, German, French, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Swedish. From 2011 to 2020, Nikolas Rose was a member of the Steering Committee of the Society and Ethics Division of the Human Brain Project, responsible for their Foresight Laboratory. He was the lead investigator in several large collaborations to develop synthetic biology, and lead partner in BIONET, a 21 partner consortium, funded by the European Commission, examining the governance of research in the life sciences in China. He is Chair of the Neuroscience and Society Network. For six years he was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and he has worked with the Academy of Medical Science and the Wellcome Trust, and with the Royal Society, where, until December 2016, he was a member of the Science Policy Advisory Group. His current research concerns the role of the life sciences and neurosciences in changing conceptions of human identity, reshaping ideas of normality and pathology, and shifting ways of thinking about and governing human beings.


Researcher's projects

Books by Nikolas Rose include

The Psychological Complex: Psychology, Politics and Society in England, 1869 - 1939, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985.

Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self, London, Routledge, 1989,  (304pp) [ISBN 0-415-02856-6]

Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power and Personhood, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self, Second edition with new Preface and Afterword, London, Free Associations Books, 1999. 

Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999 

The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Governing the Present: administering economic, social and personal life, Cambridge: Polity, 2008 (with Peter Miller).

Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013(with Joelle Abi-Rached)

Our Psychiatric Future: the politics of mental health,   Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018. 

The Urban Brain: Mental health in the vital city. Princeton: Princeton University Press,  2022 

Edited collections

The Power of Psychiatry, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1986. (Jointly edited with P. Miller)

The Essential Foucault (edited and introduced by Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose). New York: Free Press, 2003.

Vital Models The Making and Use of Models in the Brain Sciences. Progress in Brain Research, Elsevier, 2017, jointly edited with Tara Mahfoud, and Sam McLean.

Current projects

He is currently working, with Professor Thomas Osborne of Bristol University, on a book entitled Questioning Humanity: human nature and the future of the human sciences, andon a project with Professor Emily Martin of NYU on the theme of 'side effects'

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Updated:  08 December 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers