1. ESRC Genomics Network (archive)
  2. Gengage
  3. The Human Genre Project

Egenis · People

Professor S. Barry Barnes

Egenis Co-Director


Barry Barnes obtained degrees in Natural Sciences and in Sociology before taking a post in the Science Studies Unit, in the Faculty of Science at Edinburgh University. In due course he became Director of the Unit and a Professor of Sociology in the University.

In 1992 he moved to the established chair in the Dept of Sociology at Exeter University, and is now a co-director of Egenis.

Barry Barnes is known for his pioneering work on the sociological study of knowledge generation and evaluation in science, and on the basis of the credibility of scientific expertise. He has also a longstanding interest in the fundamental problems of the social sciences, particularly in collective action problems, in status groups as generators of [exclusionary] collective action, and in self-referring knowledge as constitutive of social order and systems of power. Since the mid-1990s he has been increasingly focusing his work upon the new human biotechnologies and their social and cultural significance.

He is the author of seven books, five edited or jointly authored books, and over fifty major papers. His works have appeared in translation in most European languages, and in Chinese and Japanese. In 1998 he accepted the J.B Bernal Prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science for his career achievement in that field.



Barnes, S.B. and Dupré, J., Genomes and What to Make of Them, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Barnes, S.B., Understanding Agency: Social Theory and Responsible Action, London and Beverley: Sage, 2000.

Barnes, S.B., with D. Bloor and J. Henry, editor of, Scientific Knowledge: a Sociological Analysis, London: Athlone Press, 1996.

Barnes, S.B., The Elements of Social Theory, London: London, UCL Press, and New Jersey, Princeton Univ, 1995.


Barnes, S.B., 'Catching up with Robert Merton: scientific collectives as status groups’, Journal of Classical Sociology, vol 7, 2, 2007, pp. 179-192.

Barnes, S.B., 'Elusive memories of technoscience', Klein and Lefevre eds. Technoscientific Productivity special edition: Perspectives on Science, 13, 3, 2005, pp. 142-165.

Barnes, S.B., 'The credibility of scientific expertise in a culture of suspicion', Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 30, 1, 2005, pp. 11-18.

Barnes, S.B., 'Geners, agents, and the institution of responsible action', New Genetics and Society, 21, 3, 2002, pp. 291-302.

Barnes, S.B., 'Tolerance as a primary virtue', Res Publica, 7, 3, 2001, pp. 231-45.

Barnes, S.B., 'On "The Construction of Social Reality"', La Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 55, 3, 2001, pp. 263-68.

Barnes, S.B., '"Agency" as a red herring in social theory', Philosophy of Sciences, 31, 4, 2001, pp. 7-24.

Barnes, S.B., 'Science studies and the empirical understanding of science', Science, Technology and Human Values, 1999.

Barnes, S.B., 'Biotechnology as expertise', The Politics of Biotechnology, 1999.

Barnes, S.B., 'Cultural Change: the thought-styles of Mannheim and Kuhn', Common Knowledge, 2, 2, 1994, pp. 45ff.

Barnes, S.B., 'Power', Theories and Concepts of Politics, 1993, pp. 197-210.

Barnes, S.B., 'Status Groups and Collective Action', Sociology, 26, 2, pp. 259-270.

Chapters in Books

Barnes, S.B., 'Relativism in the service of scientific understanding: examples from genetics and genomics', in (ed), Lectures on Relativism, Gothenberg University: Gothenberg, 2005.

Barnes, S.B., 'Transcending the discourse of social influences', in P. Machamer & G. Wolters (eds), Science, Values and Objectivity, Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh U. P., 2004.

Barnes, S.B., 'On social constructivist accounts of the natural sciences', in Carrier & Roggendorf (eds), World of Knowledge, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2004.

Barnes, S.B., 'Comment on Sokal and Bricmont', in Carrier & Roggendorf (eds), World of Knowledge, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2004.

Barnes, S.B., 'Between the real and the reified: Elias on time', in S. Loyal and S. Quilley (eds), The Sociology of Norbert Elias, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Barnes, S.B., 'Between the real and the reified: Elias on time', in S. Loyal & S. Quilley (eds), The Sage Companion to the Work of Norbert Elias, London: Sage, 2003, pp. 59-72.

Barnes, S.B., 'Thomas Kuhn and the problem of social order in science', in T. Nickles (ed), Thomas Kuhn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 122-41.

Barnes, S.B., 'The public evaluation of science and technology', in J.A. Bryant et. al. (ed), Bioethics for Scientists, John Wiley, 2002, pp. 19-36.

Barnes, S.B., 'Searle on social reality: process is prior to product', in G. Grewendorf & G. Meggle (eds), Speech, Acts, Mind and Social Reality, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2002, pp. 247-58.

Barnes, S.B., 'The macro-micro problem and the problem of structure and agency', in G. Ritzer & B. Smart (eds), Handbook of Social Theory, Thousand Oaks, C.A.: Sage, 2001, pp. 339-52.

Barnes, S.B., 'Biotechnology as Expertise', in O'Mahoney et al (ed), The Politics of Biotechnology, MacMillan, 1999.

Research Interests

Sociology of science, technology and expertise. Associated work in sociology of knowledge and culture, philosophy and history of science and technology, social studies of science.

Social theory and sociological theory, and especially the fundamental problems involved in understanding the nature of collective action, of power, and of status. Microsociological work relevant to these problems. Work on self-referring knowledge relevant to these problems.

Most of my work here in Exeter has been in the second of these two areas of interest, and the publication of my 1999 book on agency belongs to a research project going back to the listed 1995 book on The Elements of Social Theory, and before that to a book on The Nature of Power published in 1988. But this emphasis is likely to change because it is important to the research I do that the two cited areas are run together, and allowed, as it were, to mix in the mind.