Academic Staff

Professor Joan Busfield

Position in departmentProfessor
Staff positionDirector of Education and Postgraduate Taught Director (Autumn 2015/Spring 2016)
Telephone3399 (non Essex users should add 01206-87 to the beginning of this number)

Joan trained initially as a clinical psychologist at the Tavistock Clinic. She then worked on a study of the social influences on family size published (with M.Paddon) as Thinking About Children: Sociology and Fertility in Post-War England (1977). Her research has focussed on psychiatry and mental disorder. Her other books include:

  • Managing Madness: Changing Ideas and Practice (1986)
  • Men, Women and Madness (1996)
  • Health and Healthcare in Modern Britain (2000) 
  • Mental Illness (2011).

More recently her research has focused on the use of medicines and the pharmaceutical industry.


MA (St Andrews) MA (Essex) PhD (Essex)

Research interests

  • Mental Disorder
  • Psychiatry, Gender and Mental Disorder
  • History of Psychiatry
  • Medicines and the Pharmaceutical Industry
Teaching responsibilities

Current students

Emma Saunders, Flowers, interaction and emotion
Tania Simas, Legal and ethical issues in the assessment of psychopathy in the Portuguese criminal justice system
Kenisha Russell-Johnson, Quantifying the effects of the neighbourhood environment on health (co-supervisor: Neli Demireva)
Chan Chi Wai, The relationship between mental health and social capital among middle-aged men in Hong Kong
Yi-Fan Wang, A Study of the Social Causes of Over-Medication in China

Completed students 2010 onwards
Sarah Coombs, 'We're ok with death': Young people discuss the end of life
Daniel Holman, Social class and the use of talking treatments for common mental health problems in Britain
Elizabeth Szewczuk, Age-related infertility: a tale of two technologies
Emma Weddell, Shame and the lived body: a qualitative exploration of recovery from bulimia nervosa
Emma West, Alopecia areata: experiences of living with a potentially stigmatising illness

Teaching responsibilities
Course coordinator and lecturer, SC111: The Sociological Imagination
Course coordinator and lecturer, SC326: Psychiatry and Mental Illness



Busfield J and Paddon, M (1977) Thinking About Children: Sociology and Fertility in Post-War England, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, Reissued 2010.
Busfield J (1986) Managing Madness: Changing Ideas and Practice, London,
HutchinsonBusfield J (1996) Understanding Gender and Mental Disorder, London: Macmillan.
Lyon ES and Busfield J (eds) (1996) Methodological Imaginations, London: Macmillan.
Busfield J (2000) Health and Health Care in Modern Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Busfield J (ed) (2001) Rethinking the Sociology of Mental Health, Oxford, Blackwell
Busfield J (2011) Mental Illness, London: Polity.

Articles since 2005

(2005), ‘The globalization of the pharmaceutical industry’ in K. Lee and Collin (eds), Global Change and Health, Open University Press. 95-110.
(2005) ‘The evidence context in mental health research’, in M Slade and S Priebe (eds) Choosing Methods in Mental Health Research, London: Routledge, 213-22.
(2006) ‘Pills, power and people: sociological understandings of the pharmaceutical industry’ Sociology, 46: 297-314. 
(2006) ‘Mental disorder and human rights’, in L. Morris (ed) Rights: A Sociological Perspective. London: Routledge.
(2007) ‘Sociological understandings of the pharmaceutical industry: a response to John Abraham’, Sociology, 41: 737-9.
(2010), ‘Gender and mental health’, in E Kuhlmann and E Annandale (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Health Care, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 172-88.
(2010) ‘”A pill for every ill”: Explaining the expansion in medicine use’, Social Science and Medicine, 70: 934-41.
(2012) ‘Challenging claims that mental illness is increasing and mental well-being declining’ Social Science and Medicine,75: 581-88.
(2013) ‘The pharmaceutical industry and mental disorder’ in S. Coles, S. Keenan and B. Diamond (eds) Madness Contested, Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.
(2014) ‘Transforming misery into sickness: the genealogy of depression in the DSM’, in J. Moncrieff, M Rapley and E Speed (eds) Demedicalizing Misery II, London Palgrave, 154-73.
(2014) 'Gender and Mental Illness' in W. Cockerham, R. Dingwall and S. Quah (eds) The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia for Health, Illness, Behaviour and Society, 2014.
(2015) ‘Assessing the Overuse of Medicines’ Social Science and Medicine, 131:199-206.
(2015) ‘Globalisation and the pharmaceutical industry’, in J. Hanefeld (ed) Globalization and Health, 2nd edition, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
(2015) ‘Mental health policy and governance’ in E. Kuhlmann, RH. Blank, IL Bourgeault, and C Wendt (eds) The Palgrave International Handbook of Healthcare Policy and Governance, forthcoming.

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