Emma Whelan

Associate Professor, Chair

Emma Whelan 2022

Related information

Email: emma.whelan@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-6752
Mailing Address: 
Room 1122, McCain Building, 6135 University Avenue
PO Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Critical health studies
  • Classification and standards
  • Gender
  • Moral Regulation
  • Knowledge, science and expertise
  • Medical sociology
  • Pain and chronic illness
  • Social theory

Cross appointment

  • Gender and Women's Studies  


  • BA Hons, University of Winnipeg
  • MA, Queen's University
  • PhD, Carleton University
  • PDF, McGill University

Research interests

Emma Whelan is a sociologist whose research is concerned with problems of knowledge and moral regulation in health, illness, and health care. Her work addresses several questions:  How do we know (or think we know) about health and illness? How do people draw on moral and epistemic arguments to make claims about health, illness, and health care? How are authority over health and responsibility for health assigned? And how do competing stakeholders in the health arena struggle for power and credibility?

Dr. Whelan works with graduate students in several areas:  critical analyses of health, illness, and medicine; social studies of knowledge, professions, and disciplines; science and technology studies; qualitative methods; risk, surveillance, and moral regulation; social theory; gender and sexuality. She has particular interests in the social epistemology of pain, reproductive and sexual health, historical sociology of hygiene and public health, classification and standardization practices in medicine, and the expert-lay divide. Past research has explored the knowledge politics of endometriosis, pain treatment in the wake of the OxyContin crisis, and the evolution of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases. She is currently working on the history of moral regulation and responsibilisation in hand washing campaigns. She also has an interest in the sociology of post-secondary education, particularly in the areas of class-based inequity, accommodations, and student mental health.

Selected publications