Dr David Skinner

Reader in Sociology

Research Convenor, Social Sciences

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences

Department:Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Sociology

Courses taught: Sociology, Criminology and Sociology, Sociology

David has researched and published widely in the field of social studies of science and technology. His recent work focuses on the changing politics of knowledge and expertise about 'race'.

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David has taught sociology for 25 years at all undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and is co-author of a key textbook in the field. He has worked on a wide range of research projects (some ESRC- and ESF-funded) looking at social, scientific and technological change: topics include home computing; transport and planning; management information systems; equality, diversity and community engagement in the public services; and digital photography.

David is a member of the editorial board of Sociology, the journal of the British Sociological Association. In 2011 he co-convened an international workshop, Technologies of Belonging: Biology, Race and Ethnicity in Europe, held at University of Amsterdam. In 2012 he was Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He is a founder member of the European Network for Social Studies of Forensics.

David's research has often been in partnership with private and public sector organisations such as Dawes Cycles, Kodak, Essex Police and the Fire Service. He was previously a London Technology Network Business Fellow, and a trustee of Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau.

Research interests

Much of David’s recent work has focused on the changing politics of 'race' and science. He has published on genetics and identity politics, 'race' and forensic DNA, and on the ethical management of new technologies of surveillance and border control. David's current research projects are:

  • Race in the twenty first century: the changing dynamics of 'race' knowledge and expertise across social science, life science and data science using case studies taken from biomedicine, border management, forensics, and official statistics
  • Understanding the past, present, and future collection and use of racialised data in British sociology
  • New Technologies of policing: how are novel ways of mining, using, and presenting data and visual information altering policing?

Areas of research supervision

David has supervised three PhDs to completion:

  • Brian Rappert - Privatising Research: Intellectual Property and the Construction of the 'Public' and the 'Private' (1999)
  • Hazel Wright - Integrating Lives Through Adult Education: A Case Study of Mature Women Training to Work in Childcare (2010)
  • Jaco Beukes - Pastoral Coaching: Life Coaching as a Tool for Pastoral Care (2012)

Currently, David is first supervisor to nine research students:

  • Waheed Abbasi - Narratives of Violent Offenders in Pakistan
  • Julian Constable - Initial Police Training
  • Mazher Idriss - Honour-Related Violence
  • Dwarka Nayak - Mobility, Precariousness, and Higher Education:  a Study of South Asian Students
  • Beth Derks - Rebooting Britain? The BBC Make it Digital Campaign
  • Saif Al Wahedi - Electronic Tagging of Offenders in UAE
  • Marie Karim - Parents of Adults with High-Functioning Autism
  • Carina O'Reilly - Policing and Public Engagement
  • Ambreen Rubab – Motherhood in Pakistani Prisons


  • PhD Sociology, Brunel University
  • BA Sociology (First), Bedford College, University of London

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of Editorial Board Sociology
  • Member of British Sociological Association
  • Member of European Association for the Study of Science and Technology
  • Member of Association for Studies in Innovation, Science and Technology

Selected recent publications


Edited with Richard Rottenburg and Katharina Schramm, 2012. Identity Politics After DNA: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging. Berghahn. A paperback edition of the above book is due for publication November 2014.

With Janice McLaughlin, Paul Rosen and Andrew Webster, 1999. Valuing Technology: Organisations, Culture and Change. London: Routledge.

With Tony Bilton, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, Michelle Stanworth and Andrew Webster, 1999 and 2002. Introductory Sociology. Basingstoke: Palgrave. A Turkish translation of Introductory Sociology was published in 2008.

Chapters in books

Mobile Identities and Fixed Categories: Forensic DNA and the Politics of Racialised Data. In: Katharina Schramm, David Skinner and Richard Rottenburg (Eds.), 2012. Identity Politics After DNA: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging. Berghahn.

With Richard Rottenburg and Katharina Schramm, 2012. Ideas in Motion: Making Sense of Identity After DNA. In: Katharina Schramm, David Skinner and Richard Rottenburg (Eds.). Identity Politics After DNA: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging. Berghahn.

What Might Critical Race Theory Tell Us About Racial Categorisation?’ in: Kevin Hylton et al (Eds.). Atlantic Crossings: International Dialogues on Critical Race Theory (C-SAP Monograph No14 2011).

Powerful or Powerless? The Changing Public Role of the Sociology of Race and Racism., In: Andrew Pilkington et al (Eds.). Transitions in Theorising 'Race' in Education (C-SAP Monograph No11 2009).

Edited special issues of journals

Edited with Vanessa May and Nicola Rollock, 2016, 'Self-Identity and Its Discontents: Sociology in the 1990s' Sociology 50th Anniversary e-Special

Edited with Amade M'Charek and Katharina Schramm, 2014. Technologies of Belonging. Special Issue of Science, Technology & Human Values, 39(4).

Edited with Paul Rosen, 2001. Opening  the White Box: Racialized Science and Technology. Special Issue of Science as Culture, 10(3).

Journal articles

2014. Beyond Whac-a-Mole? Rethinking 'Race' in Social Studies of Genetics. New Genetics & Society, 33(4), pp.450-457.

With Amade M'Charek and Katharina Schramm, 2014. Technologies of Belonging: The Absent Presence of Race in Europe. Science, Technology & Human Values, 39(4), pp.459-467.

With Amade M'Charek and Katharina Schramm, 2014. Topologies of Race: Doing Territory, Population and Identity in Europe. Science, Technology & Human Values, 39(4), pp.468-487.

2013. The NDNAD has no Ability in Itself to be Discriminatory: Ethnicity and the Governance of the National Forensic DNA Database. Sociology, 47(5), pp.976-992.