Staff Profile


Dr Sarah Cant

Principal Lecturer

School: School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 922145

Profile summary

I am a Principal Lecturer and the Director for Sociology.

I joined Canterbury Christ Church University in 2001, after six years as a Research Fellow and a subsequent six years as a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Roehampton University.

During my time at Canterbury Christ Church I have further developed my interest in the Sociology of Health and Illness and specifically the Sociology of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). I also have extended my research interests to include the study of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.  I am very interested in how students navigate higher education and how the teaching environment has changed for academics and, to explore this, I have secured funding from the British Academy and am working on a book (with Jennie Bristow) entitled, ‘The Graduate Generation’.  I initiated a 'Community Partnerships Project' at the University, designed to foster reciprocal relationships with local charity and third sector organisations and, along with my students and colleagues, have undertaken a number of research projects. One particular project, commissioned by Thanet District Council, involved an evaluation of team working to deliver community services and this led to an exciting collaboration with the London School of Economics working on a Leverhulme/Rockefeller funded project on community resilience.

In the Sociology Programme we take a team approach to teaching and as such I contribute to many modules across all three years of the undergraduate degree.  I teach on the Masters programme and welcome PhD students interested in the sociologies of CAM, mental illness and higher education.

Research and knowledge exchange

My main area of research interest lies in the Sociology of Health and Illness. This began with a scholarship to study for a Masters in Sociology as Applied to Medicine, followed by funded research into the private health care sector and then a project about health promotion in primary care. The award of an ESRC grant fostered a long term interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with a particular focus on the processes of professionalisation and upon questions of power and legitimacy.  This work formed the basis of my PhD. My most recently funded research work in this area has centred on the use of CAM by nurses and midwives and this has led to an interest in the intersection of gender and CAM and health policy questions around integration. Additionally, I have developed a research interest in the experiences of teaching and learning in Higher Education and am currently working on a British Academy funded project.

My latest work has centred on the establishment of a 'Community Partnerships Project'. This developed from a teaching initiative where I developed a volunteering module ('Citizenship and Community') for our students. The aim of the project is to develop volunteering opportunities for our students but to also work with our local charity and third sector organisations by providing research consultancy and a support nexus. Perhaps the most exciting part of the project is that we are offering not just academic expertise but are also engaging our students in these research activities, providing them with practical research experiences. I am developing my research in Margate with colleagues at the London School of Economics.

Teaching and subject expertise

Whilst my main research area lies in the Sociology of Health and Illness, I contribute to a wide range of modules, reflecting a broad based expertise in Sociology, Social Theory and Social Research Methods. As such, I am centrally involved in the delivery of our Level 4 modules. In addition, I offer specialist modules in the Sociology of Health, Sociology of Mental Health, Theory and Methods.

I have published research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In 2011, my team and I were awarded the BSA/C-Sap National Award for Excellence in Teaching Sociology.

External activities

My research in complementary and alternative medicine has resulted in conference presentations at many national and international conferences. During the House of Lords review of CAM, I contributed to working group discussions and I have acted as an Advisor to the Open University on a Wellcome Foundation research project and for their undergraduate degree.

My recent work within the Sociology of Teaching and Learning within Higher Education has also been widely disseminated at conferences and our Programme hosted a Higher Education Academy Seminar.

I have extensive experience of External Examining, PhD examination and I have acted as an External Assessor for validation work at other Universities.

Some recent conference presentations include:

Cant, S. (2016) Medical Pluralism: Mainstream Marginality or Subaltern Medicine? Examining the Integration of Asian Medicines and Biomedicine in the UK, Global Capital and Social Difference, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. 6/7th October 2016

Cant, S. and Watts, P. (2013) “Precarious professionalism: attempts by nurses and midwives to position themselves as competent practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine in the UK National Health Service”. In: ISA RC52 (Sociology of Professional Groups) Interim Conference on Challenging Professionalism: New Directions in Policies, Publics and the Professions, School of Economics and Management (ISEG), Lisbon

Cant, S. (2011) Empowerment and marginality. In: UK-Israel Workshop, Bnai Zion Medical Center, February 2011, Haifa, Israel . (Unpublished)

Cant, S. (2011) The knowledgeable doer: nurse and midwife integration of complementary and alternative medicine in NHS hospitals. In: Wellcome Trust Conference: Regulation and Professionalisation in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Concerns, May 2011, University of Birmingham (forthcoming as a chapter)

Cant, S. and Watts, P. (2010) Pure and dangerous: complementary and alternative medicine, risk and governmentality. In: British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference, 1 - 3 September 2010, Durham University.

Cant, S. and Watts, P. (2009) Familiarity breeds contentment: Enabling student transitions into HE through taking a holistic approach approach to level IV delivery. In: Higher Education Academy Seminar Series, Oct 2009, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, Kent, UK.

Publications and research outputs

The publication of the book, A New Medical Pluralism: Alternative Medicine, Doctors, Patients and the State, established my expertise in the Sociology of CAM. Since then, recent publications include:

Cant, S (2017) Hysteresis, social congestion and debt: towards a sociology of mental health disorders in undergraduates. Social Theory and Health, 10.1057/s41285-017-0057-y. Available

Cant, S. and Watts, P. (2015) The 'knowledgeable doer': nurse and midwife integration of complementary and alternative medicine in NHS hospitals. In: Gale, N. and McHale, J., eds. Routledge Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Perspectives from Social Science and Law. Routledge Handbooks. London: Routledge. pp. 98-110 ISBN 9780415818940

Cant, S. and Watts, P. (2012) Complementary and alternative medicine: gender and marginality. In: Kuhlmann, E. and Annandale, E., eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Health Care. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave. pp. 488-520 ISBN 9781137015143

Cant, S., Watts, P. and Ruston, A. (2012) The rise and fall of complementary medicine in National Health Service hospitals in England. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 18 (3). pp. 135-139. ISSN 1744-3881.

Cant, S., Watts, P. and Ruston, A. (2011) Negotiating competency, professionalism and risk: the integration of complementary and alternative medicine by nurses and midwives in NHS hospitals. Social Science and Medicine, 72 (4). pp. 529-536. ISSN 0277-9536

Cant, S. and Watts, P. (2012) Complementary and alternative medicine: gender and marginality. In: Kuhlmann, E. and Annandale, E., eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Health Care. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave. pp. 488-520 ISBN 9781137015143

Cant, S. (2009) Mainstream marginality: ''non-orthodox'' medicine in an ''orthodox'' health service. In: Gabe, J. and Calnan, M., eds. The New Sociology of the Health Service. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. pp. 177-200 ISBN 9780415455985

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Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:57:00