For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Susan E. Bell, professor of sociology, Drexel University College of Arts and Sciences

Susan E. Bell, PhD

Professor of Sociology
Affiliated Faculty, Urban Health Collaborative, Dornsife School of Public Health
Department of Sociology
Center for Science, Technology and Society
Office: 3201 Arch Street, 294

Additional Sites:

Google Scholar


  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Sociology, Harvard Medical School
  • PhD, Sociology, Brandeis University
  • MA, Sociology, Brandeis University
  • BA, Philosophy, Haverford College

Curriculum Vitae:

Download (PDF)

Research Interests:

  • Sociology of health and illness
  • Global and transnational health
  • Reproductive health, rights and justice
  • Experience of illness
  • Narrative
  • Visual sociology


Susan E. Bell, PhD, is Professor of Sociology and her research specialty is the sociology of health and illness. Since the 1970s her scholarship has examined the interaction between patient cultures and embodied health movements, on the one hand, and the changing culture and structure of biomedicine on the other. In her research she investigates the experience of illness, women's health, and narrative representations of the politics of cancer, medicine, and women's bodies. She also investigates the global flow of biomedical knowledge and spatial permeability by listening to and analyzing stories constructed in interactions between immigrant patient populations and staff in U.S. hospital outpatient clinics. She was the recipient of the 2022 Leo G. Reeder Award, the highest honor awarded by the Medical Sociology Section of the ASA.

Previously Professor Bell was Professor of Sociology and A. Myrick Freeman Professor of Social Sciences at Bowdoin College. While at Bowdoin she also taught hospital-based seminars for the Maine Humanities Council, “Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care” from 2000-2010. She served as Chair of the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (2013-2014) and is a Board Member of Research Committee 15 (Sociology of Health) of the International Sociological Association (2019-2026).

Selected Publications:

Books and Edited Journals

  • Susan E. Bell and Anne E. Figert, editors. 2015. Reimagining (Bio)Medicalization, Pharmaceuticals and Genetics: Old Critiques and New Engagements. Routledge
  • Alan Radley and Susan E. Bell, guest editors. 2011. “Another Way of Knowing: Art, Disease, and Illness Experience.” special issue of health: an interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness and medicine, 15:3.
  • Susan E. Bell. 2009. DES Daughters: Embodied Knowledge and the Transformation of Women’s Health Politics Philadelphia: Temple University Press.


  • Susan E. Bell, 2023. “Becoming Doctors Again in the United States: An Intersectional Approach to Understanding Women Refugee Physicians,” SS&M Qualitative Research in Health 4: 100340.
  • Susan E. Bell, Patrick R. Grzanka, Kelly Joyce, and Laura Senier, “Masking (Not Masking) Up: An STS Visual-Intersectional Approach to Understanding Publics and Science in Times of Rapid Change.” 2023. Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 9(2): 9-40.
  • Susan E. Bell and Lillian Walkover. 2021. “The case for refugee physicians: Forced migration of International Medical Graduates in the 21st century.” Social Science & Medicine, v. 277.
  • Kelly Joyce, Laurel Smith-Doerr, Sharla Alegria, Susan Bell, Taylor Cruz, Steven Hoffman, Safiya Noble, Benjamin Shestakofsky. 2021. “Toward a Sociology of Artificial Intelligence: A Call for Research on Inequalities and Structural Change,” Socius 7:1-11. DOI: 10.1177/2378023121999581
  • Susan E. Bell. 2019. “Interpreter assemblages: Caring for immigrant and refugee patients in US hospitals,” Social Science & Medicine 226: 29-36.
  • Susan E. Bell. 2018. “Placing care: Embodying architecture in hospital care for immigrant/refugee patients.” Sociology of Health & Illness, 40(2): 314-326. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.12604
  • Susan E. Bell and Anne E. Figert. 2012. “Medicalization and pharmaceuticalization at the intersections: Looking backward, sideways and forward.” Social Science and Medicine, 75(5): 775-783. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.04.002
  • Mary Ellen Bell and Susan E. Bell. 2012. “What to do with all this stuff?: Memory, family, and material objects.” Storytelling, Self, Society, 8(2): 63-84.
  • Susan E. Bell. 2011. “Claiming justice: Knowing mental illness in the public art of Anna Schuleit’s ‘Habeas Corpus’ and ‘Bloom’.” health: an interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness, and medicine, 15(3): 313-334. DOI: 10.1177/1363459310397979

Book Chapters

  • Susan E. Bell, “Bringing Our Bodies and Ourselves Back in: Seeing Irving Kenneth Zola’s Legacy,” in Sara Green and Sharon Barnartt, eds. Research in Social Science and Disability. 9:143-158, 2017
  • Susan E. Bell and Anne E. Figert. 2015. “Moving sideways and forging ahead: Re-imagining –izations in the 21st century.” Pp. 19-40 in Bell and Figert, eds., Reimagining (Bio)Medicalization, Pharmaceuticals and Genetics. Routledge.
  • Anne E. Figert and Susan E. Bell. 2014. “Big pharma and big medicine in the global environment.” Pp. 456-470 in Daniel Kleinman and Kelly Moore, eds., Handbook of Science, Technology, and Society, Routledge.
  • Susan E. Bell. 2014. “Disrupting scholarship.” Pp. 119-140 in Rosanna Hertz, Anita Ilta Garey and Margaret K. Nelson, eds., Open to Disruption: Practicing Slow Sociology. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
  • Susan E. Bell. 2013. “Seeing narratives.” Pp. 142-158 in Molly Andrews, Corrine Squire and Maria Tamboukou, eds., Doing Narrative Research, second edition. London: Sage Publications, Ltd.
  • Susan E. Bell and Anne E. Figert. 2010. “Gender and the medicalization of health care.” Pp. 107-122 in Ellen Kuhlmann and Ellen Annandale, eds. Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Healthcare, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Susan E. Bell. 2010. “Visual methods for collecting and analysing data.” Pp. 513-535 in Ivy Lynn Bourgeault, Raymond DeVries, and Robert Dingwall, eds., The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Methods in Health Research. Sage Publications.