Nikolas Rose is a prominent British sociologist and social theorist. He is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine (previously Social Science, Health & Medicine) at King's College London, having joined King's in January 2012 to found this new Department. Previously he was the James Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, director and founder of LSE's BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society from 2002 to 2011, and Head of the LSE Department of Sociology (2002–2006). He was previously Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he had been Head of the Department of Sociology, Pro-Warden for Research and Head of the Goldsmiths Centre for Urban and Community Research and Director of a major evaluation of urban regeneration in South East London.
Originally trained as a biologist, Nikolas Rose has done extensive work on the history and sociology of psychiatry, on mental health policy and risk, and on the social implications of recent developments in psychopharmacology. He has also published widely on the genealogy of subjectivity, on the history of empirical thought in sociology, and on changing rationalities of political power. He is particularly known for his interpretation of the work of the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault and the revival of the literature on governmentality in the Anglo-American world.
His book, Governing the Soul: the shaping of the private self, is widely recognised as one of the founding texts in a new way of understanding and analysing the links between expertise, subjectivity and political power. He argues that the proliferation of the 'psy' disciplines has been intrinsically linked with transformations in governmentality, in the rationalities and technologies of political power in 'advanced and liberal democracies'. (See also governmentality for a description of Rose's interpretations of Foucault's writings).
For six years he was managing editor of the journal Economy & Society, one of the UK's leading interdisciplinary journal of social science, and he is now co-editor of BioSocieties: An interdisciplinary journal for social studies of life sciences.
In 1989, he founded the History of the Present Research Network, an international network of researchers whose work was influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault. Together with Paul Rabinow, he edited the Fourth Volume of Michel Foucault's Essential Works.
In December 2001, he was listed by The Guardian newspaper as one of the top five UK based social scientists, on the basis of a twenty-year analysis of citations to research papers, and the most cited UK based sociologist.
He was awarded in 2007 an ESRC Professorial Research Fellowship – a three-year project entitled 'Brain, Self and Society in the 21st Century'. In 2013, writing with Joelle Abi-Rached, he published Neuro: the new brain sciences and the management of the mind.
Throughout his academic career he has been a critical analyst of psychiatry. His first book on this topic was published in 1986 - The Power of Psychiatry, a collection edited together with Peter Miller His most recent book Our Psychiatric Future: the politics of mental health was published by Polity Press in October 2018.
Nikolas Rose is the Chair of the Neuroscience and Society Network, an international network to encourage critical collaboration between social scientists and neuroscientists. He is a member of the Social and Ethical Division of the Human Brain Project, where he leads the Foresight Lab, which is based at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King's College London.
He was previously a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. He was a member of the Council's Working Party on Medical profiling and online medicine: the ethics of 'personalised healthcare' in a consumer age (2008–2010) and was a member of the Council's Working Party on Novel Neurotechnologies. He has also served as a member of the Royal Society's Science Policy Committee. He was also Co-Director of the first publicly funded UK centre dedicated to synthetic biology based at Imperial College. where he led a team examining the social, ethical, legal and political dimensions of this emerging practice. At King's he leads a team of researchers exploring the social implications of new developments in biotechnology, and committed to the democratisation of scientific research and technological development.
His work has been translated into many languages including Swedish, Danish, Finnish, German, Italian, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Romanian, Portuguese and Spanish.