Dr Eeva Sointu

Senior Lecturer: Sociology

School of Psychological and Social Sciences

E: e.sointu@yorksj.ac.uk

T: 87 6869

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychological and Social Sciences at York St John University. Before YSJ, I was a Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of York. Until June 2017, I was a tenured Associate Professor of Sociology at Smith College, a highly selective Liberal Arts College in the United States (ranked 12th out of 233 Liberal Arts Colleges by the US News and World Report). My scholarly roots, however, lie in the UK. I completed my B.A. in Religious Studies, my M.A. in Religion, Culture and Society, and my Ph.D. in Sociology at Lancaster University. My roots, otherwise, are in Lapland, in Northern Finland.

Further Information


My thinking and research have been profoundly shaped and enriched by long-term involvement in teaching and student supervision. The bulk of my teaching experience emerges from ten years of teaching at Smith College where I designed and taught four fourteen-week undergraduate courses annually. The courses that I designed and regularly taught include: Medical Sociology, Qualitative Methods, Introduction to Sociology, Sociology of Wellbeing, Sociology of the Body, and Visual Sociology. I contributed to methods teaching also at the University of York.

I currently teach Qualitative Approaches to Research, and Designing Sociological Investigations.


Two broad questions drive my research. First, what more than biomedical illness underlies the use of health practices and, second, what more than scientific knowledge underlies the ways in which medicine is practiced. Identities and inequalities lie at the centre my work. My early research connected the rise of complementary and alternative medicines with ideas of authentic, reflexive and self-responsible selfhood, and with the gendered and classed dispositions people in search of wellbeing. My more recent work focuses on the experiences of medical students undertaking clinical training at five US medical schools. This research develops sociological understanding into the reproduction of inequality in medicine and shows that doctors’ perceptions of patients and, furthermore, diagnostic and treatment decisions, draw from social stereotypes related to race and social class. Stereotypes that disadvantage some patients are enshrined in the ‘hidden curriculum’ of medical education, enforced through the powerlessness of students within medical hierarchies, and made more cogent through the entwining of stereotypes with affect and emotion.

Publications and Conferences



Sointu, E. (2012) Theorizing Complementary and Alternative Medicines: Wellbeing, Self, Class, Gender, Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, UK, New York, USA.

Published in peer reviewed journals:

Sointu, E. (2017) ‘Good’ patient / ‘bad’ patient: clinical learning and the entrenching of inequality, Sociology of Health and Illness, 39, 1, 63-77.

Sointu, E. (2016) Discourse, affect and affliction, The Sociological Review, 64, 312–328.

Sointu, E. (2013) Complementary and alternative medicines, embodied subjectivity and experiences of healing, Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 17, 5, 439-454.

Sointu, E. (2011) Detraditionalization, Gender, and Alternative and Complementary Medicines, Sociology of Health and Illness, 33, 3, 356-371.

Sointu, E. and Woodhead, L. (2008) Spirituality, Gender, and Expressive Selfhood, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 47, 2, 259-276.

Sointu, E. (2006) Healing bodies, feeling bodies: embodiment and alternative and complementary health practices, Social Theory and Health 4, 3, 203-220.

Sointu, E. (2006) Recognition and the creation of wellbeing, Sociology 40, 3, 493-510.

Sointu, E. (2006) The search for wellbeing in alternative and complementary health practices, Sociology of Health and Illness 28, 3, 330-349.

Sointu, E. (2005) The rise of an ideal: tracing changing discourses of wellbeing, The Sociological Review 53, 2, 255-274.

Book chapters:

Sointu, E. (2014) Complementary and Alternative Medicines, Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society, Robert Dingwall and Stella R. Quah (eds.), John Wiley and Sons.

Sointu, E. (2012) Exploring the focus group method: a practical experience, Active Learning Exercises for Research Methods in Social Sciences, Beth Skott and Masjo Ward (eds.), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 102-105.

Articles under review:

Sointu, E. (under review) Challenges and a superpower: how medical students understand and would improve health in neoliberal times

Sointu, E. (under review) Trump therapy: understanding the resonance of therapeutic thinking today

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