Professor Alison Anderson

Professor Alison Anderson

Associate Head of School (Research)

School of Law, Criminology and Government (Faculty of Arts and Humanities)


Professor of Sociology and Associate Head of School (Research)


BA (Hons.) Sociology, University of York, 1986

PhD, University of Greenwich, 1993

Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education,University of Plymouth, 1992


Professional membership

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacture (FRSA)

Elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS)

Founding member and on Board of Directors of International Environmental Communication Association 

Member of the British Sociological Association (BSA)

Member of International Sociological Association (ISA) and Research Committee on Sociology of Science and Technology

Member of European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)

Member of European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA)

Member of European Sociological Association Research Group on Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty (SoRU)

Roles on external bodies

2014- 2017 Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Communication, official journal of the International Environmental Communication Association

2013-2017 Board member, International Environmental Communication Association (IECA)

2011- Member of International Advisory Board, International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses.

2011-2013 Editorial Board Member of Sociology.

2009- Editorial Board Member of Environmental Communication

2008-2011 Associate Board member of Sociology.

2009- 2016 Associate Editor, International Journal of Technoethics

2006-2010 Editorial Board Member of Sociological Research Online.

1996-2000 Book Review Editor for Sociology, journal of the British Sociological Association

Teaching interests

Media; Environmental Issues; Health Communication; Social Movements; Crime Reporting; Methods

Alison teaches on all three years of the undergraduate programme and is currently Module Leader for:

SOC3546 Dissertation and PDP

SOC3547 Media, State and Society

MKT710 Brands, Culture & Society

Supervision and Examining

She also supervises undergraduate dissertation students and MPhil, ResM and PhD students. 

Staff serving as external examiners

Research interests

Mass Media and Culture; Risk; Genetics; Nanotechnologies; Environmental Sustainability; Marine Pollution; Social Movements; Science Communication

Other research

Crime Reporting, Digital Media and Big Data

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

PhD ‘Sustainable Development: The Reflexive Governance of Risk', Gregory Borne.

PhD 'The Distribution of Attitudinal Attachment to the Male Breadwinner Role: A quantitative study of the Plymouth travel to work area', Suzanne Chamberlain ESRC funded.

PhD 'Managerial Decision Making: A Discursive Analysis', Teri McConville.

PhD 'An Exploration into how Students with Dyslexia identify with their Condition, with Particular Reference to the Tensions which Surround Public and Private Perceptions of Dyslexia’, Deborah Shenton.

PhD 'Metaphors of Health and Disease in Nazi Film Propaganda', Melanie Wright.

PhD ‘', Julie Parsons.

PhD 'The Discourses and Lived Experiences of 'Maternal Obesity' and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Pregnancy (T2DM) Rachel Jarvie, ESRC funded.

ResM 'Faith in Practice: A Mixed Method Study Exploring the Impact of Faith Based Organisations in Delivering Voluntary and Community Sector Activities in Cornwall', Lois Wild, ESF funded.
PhD 'An exploration of how agency and socio-cultural milieu support greater or lesser controlled gambling and recovery from gambling addiction', Ed Pyle, Plymouth University.

Grants & contracts

2017-2020 'A sociological study of patients' use of digital media', Australian Research Council (Alan Petersen PI, Timothy Caulfield, CI) $366,000

2017-2020 'Public Perception and Communication of Deep Geothermal Energy', United Downs Deep Geothermal Project (with Iain Stewart, Sabine Pahl, Mark Anderson) ERDF £429.333, CI

2015-2016 Beating the Micro-bead (with Sabine Pahl, Richard Thompson, Kayleigh Wyles and Jane Grose) ISSR Small Collaborative Award, PI

January 2011 - June 2013 'What is Revalidation in Practice? Shaping the Future Development of Revalidation', Health Foundation grant of £80,000 (with Julian Archer and Sam Regan de Bere)

January 2011 - July 2011 'A Toolkit for Embedding Methods Teaching within a Sociology Fieldtrip' (with Carole Surron). C-SAP, £14,120 (including matched funding)

2010- 2011 - Higher Education Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources £250,000 (PI Stephen Gomez). Work Package Three: Qualitative Research Methods

2006-2007 Co-investigator with Alan Petersen on British Academy study, 'Striking a Balance? How Scientists and Policymakers Portray the Benefits and Risks of Nanotechnologies as Applied to Medical and Environmental Sustainability'

2003 -2005 Principal Applicant 'Nanotechnology and News Production: Scientists', Journalists' and Editors' Views.' £48,000 ESRC (with Alan Petersen and Stuart Allan). Home page:

1999 - awarded a start-up grant of £20,000 by the European Science Foundation (with colleagues in the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy)

Books and Edited Volumes

Anderson, A. (2014) Media, Environment and the Network Society. Palgrave Macmillan: Houndmills.

Anderson, A. (2010) Special Issue of Journal of Risk Research, (13) 1.

Anderson, A., Petersen, A., Wilkinson, C. and Allan, S. (2009) Nanotechnology, Risk and Communication. Palgrave Macmillan: Houndmills

Ettorre, E. and Anderson, A. (2007)  Special Issue of Sociological Research Online,  12 (2).

Petersen, A., Anderson, A., Wilkinson, C  and Allan, S. (2007)  Special Issue of Health, Risk and Society, 9 (2).

Anderson, A. and Ettorre, E. (2007) Special Issue of Sociological Research Online, 11 (2).

Meethan, K., Anderson, A., Miles, S. (eds.) (2006) Tourism, Consumption and Representation. Wallingford:CAB International. 

Ettorre, E., Anderson, A., David, M. and Wilkinson, I (2002) Special Issue of New Genetics and Society, 21, (3).

Miles, S., Anderson, A., Meethan, K. (eds.) (2001) The Changing Consumer: Markets and Meanings. London: Routledge.

Anderson, A. (1997) Media, Culture and the Environment. London: Routledge. 


Wyles, K.J., Hildlgo-Ruz, V., Pahl, S., & Anderson, A. (2015) 'Social Aspects of Microplastics in the Marine Environment'. In Kershaw, P.J. (Ed.) 'Sources, fate andeffects of microplastics in the marine environment - a global assessment’.GESAMP Reports & Studies Series. GESAMP(IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP/UNDP Joint Group of Experts onScientific Aspects of Marine Protection)

Book Chapters

Anderson, A. (in press) 'Environment and Popular Culture'. In Castree, N., Hulme, M. & Proctor. J. (Eds.) The Companion to Environmental Studies. London: Routledge.

Anderson, A. (2015) 'Rethinking Climate Change Communication' Invited commentary on Part IV ‘Future Directions on Climate Politics Scholarship’. In Boykoff, M. and Crow, D.A. (eds.) Culture, Politics and Climate Change: How information shapes our common future. London: Routledge

Anderson, A. (2015) Climate Politics and the News Media. In Backstrand, K. and Lovbrand, E. (eds.) Research Handbook on Climate Governance. Edward Elgar.

Anderson, A. (2015)  News Organisation(s) and the Production of Environmental News. In Hansen, A. and Cox, R. (eds.) Handbook of Environment and Communication. London: Routledge.

Anderson, A. and Petersen, A. (2013) Nanotechnologies and Trust. In Candlin, C.N.  and J. Crichton (eds.)  Discourses of Trust. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Anderson, A. (2010)  'Communicating Chemical Risks: Beyond the Risk Society'. In Eriksson, J., Gilek, M. and Ruden, C. (eds) Regulating Chemical Risks: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on European and Global Challenges. Springer.

Anderson, A., Allan, S., Petersen, A and Wilkinson, C. (2008) 'Nanoethics: news media and the shaping of public agendas'. In Luppicini, R. & Adell, R. (eds) Handbook of Research on Technoethics,  Idea Group.

Anderson, A. (2007) 'Spinning the Rural Agenda' . In Giarchi, G. (ed.) Challenging Welfare Issues in the Global Countryside. Oxford: Blackwell.

Anderson, A. (2006) 'Media and Risk'. In Walklate, S. & Mythen, G. (eds.) Beyond the Risk Society. Open University/McGraw Hill. 

Allan, S., Anderson, A. and Petersen, A. (2005) ‘Reporting Risk: Science Journalism and the Prospect of Human Cloning’. In Watson, S. and Moran, A. (eds.) Risk, Trust and Uncertainty. London: Palgrave.

Anderson, A., Petersen, A. and David, M. (2005) 'Communication or Spin? Source -Media Relations in Science Journalism'. In S. Allan (ed) Journalism: Critical Issues. Buckingham: OUP.

Anderson, A. (2004) 'Media Analysis'. In M. David and C. Sutton (eds.) Social Research: The Basics. London: Sage. 

Anderson, A. (2004) 'Risk, Terrorism and the Internet'. In Clarke, D. (ed.) Technology and Terrorism (pp 155-66). London: Transaction.

Anderson, A. (2003) 'Environmental Activism and News Sources'. In S. Cottle (ed.) News, Public Relations and Power. London: Sage. 

Anderson, A. (2001) 'News Media Representations of Environmental Issues.' In The Role of the Mass Media in Environmental Education, Environmental Studies Information Centre (CEIA), Catalan Institute of Technology, Barcelona, Spain. 

Anderson, A. (1999) 'Environmental Pressure Politics and the 'Risk Society'' In S. Allan, B. Adam & C. Carter (Eds.) Environmental Risks and the Media. London: Routledge.

Anderson, A. & S. Miles (1999) 'Just Do It?' Young People, the Global Media and the Construction of Consumer Meanings. In S. Ralph, J. Langham-Brown & T. Lees (eds.) Youth and the Global Media. Current Debates in Broadcasting 5,  University of Luton Press, 105-112.

Anderson, A. (1993) 'Source-media Relations: The Production of the Environmental Agenda'. In A. Hansen (ed.) The Mass Media and Environmental Issues. Leicester: Leicester University Press

Refereed Articles 

Anderson (2017) 'Source Influence on Journalistic Decisions and News Coverage of Climate Change.' Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science.

Anderson A.G, Grose J, Pahl S, Thompson R.C, Wyles K.J (2016) Microplastics in personal care products: Exploring perceptions of environmentalists, beauticians and students. Marine Pollution Bulletin,

Anderson (2015) Reflections on Environmental Communication and the Challenges of a New Research Agenda. Environmental Communication, 9 (3): 379-383.

Anderson, A. (2013) 'Together we can Save the Arctic': Celebrity Advocacy and the Rio +20 Earth Summit', special issue of Celebrity Studies, 4 (3): 339-52.

Anderson, A. (2011) Sources, Media and Modes of Climate Change Communication: The Role of Celebrities. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2 (4): 535-46.

Anderson, A. (2010) Editorial - 'Mediating Risk: Towards a New Research Agenda', Special Issue of Journal of Risk Research, 13 (1) 1-3.

Allan, S., Anderson, A. & Petersen, A. (2010) 'Framing Risk: Nanotechnologies in the News', Journal of Risk Research, 13 (1) 29-44. 

Anderson, A. and Petersen, A. (2010) 'Shaping the ethics of an emergent field: scientists’ and policymakers’ representations of nanotechnologies,' Special Issue of International Journal of Technoethics, 1 (1): 32-44. Winner of IGI Global’s ‘Fourth Annual Excellence in Research Journal Awards,’ celebrating the best articles from the 2010 volume year.

Petersen, A., Anderson, A., Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. (2009) 'Opening the black box: Scientists’ views on the role of the news media in the nanotechnology debate', Public Understanding of Science, 18 (5): 512-530.

Anderson, A. (2009) 'Media Politics and Climate Change: Towards a New Research Agenda', Sociology Compass, 3.

Anderson, A. & Marhadour, A. (2007) 'Slick PR? The Media Politics of the Prestige Oil Spill', Science Communication, 29, (1): 96-115.

Ettorre, E. and Anderson, A. (2007) Editorial: Politics, Responsibility and Risk', Special Issue, Sociological Research Online, 12 (2).

Petersen, A. and Anderson, A. (2007) ‘A Question of Balance or Blind Faith? Scientists’ and Policymakers’ Representations of the Benefits and Risks of Nanotechnologies’, NanoEthics, 1 (3), 243-56.

Petersen, A., Anderson, A., Wilkinson, C  and Allan, S. (2007) Editorial: Nanotechnologies, risk and society, Health, Risk and Society, 9 (2), 117-124.

Wilkinson, C., Allan, S., Anderson, A and Petersen, A. (2007)  From uncertainty to risk?: scientific and news media portrayals of nanoparticle safety. Health, Risk and Society,.9 (2), 145-157.

Anderson, A. 'Spinning the Rural Agenda' (2006) Special Issue of Social Policy & Adminstration, 40, (6).

Anderson, A., Allan, S., Petersen, A. and Wilkinson, C. (2006) 'Nanotechnology in the news',, January (

Anderson, A. and Ettorre, E. (2006) Editorial: Families, Intimacy and Social Change, Special Issue, Sociological Research Online, 11 (2).

Anderson, A., Petersen, A. and Allan, S. (2005) 'Science Fiction/Science Fact? Metaphor and Imagery in News Stories on Medical Genetics', New Genetics and Society. 24, (3), 337-53.

Anderson, A., Petersen, A, Wilkinson, C. & Allan, S. (2005) 'The Framing of Nanotechnologies in the British Newspaper Press', Special Issue of Science Communication, 27 (2): 200-20.

Anderson, A. (2003) 'Risk, Terrorism and the Internet', Knowledge, Technology and Society, 16, (2),24-33. 

Anderson, A. (2003) 'Communication, Conflict and Risk in the 21st Century', Sociological Research Online.

Anderson, A. (2002) 'The Media Politics of Oil Spills', Spill Science and Technology Bulletin, 7, (5), 7-16.

Anderson, A. (2002) 'In Search of the Holy Grail: Media Discourse and the New Human Genetics', New Genetics and Society, 21, (3), 327-37.

Ettorre, E., Anderson, A., David, M. and Wilkinson, I (2002) 'Editorial: Taking Genetics Seriously', New Genetics and Society, 21, (3), 261-66. 

Anderson, A. and Gaber, I. (1993) 'The Road from Rio: The Causes of Environmental Antisappointment', Intermedia, 21, (6), 27-9.

Anderson, A. and Gaber, I. (1993) 'The Yellowing of the Greens', British Journalism Review, 4 (2) 49-55.

Anderson, A. (1991) 'Source Strategies and the Communication of Environmental Affairs', Media, Culture & Society, 13, (4), 459-476.

Anderson, A. (1990) 'The Production of Environmental Meanings in the Media: A New Era', Media Education Journal, (10), 18-20.

Book Reviews

Anderson, A. (2005) Book review of Gold, J.R. (2004) 'Representing the Environment', Journal of Rural Studies, July.

Anderson, A. (2006) Book review of Tumber,H. & Palmer, J. (2004) Media at War: The Iraq Crisis. London: Sage, War and the Media Network. publications/reviews/Palmer_tumber.html

Anderson, A. (2007) Book review of Berube, D.  (2006) 'Nano-hype', Health, Risk and Society, 9, (2).

Anderson, A. (2011) Book review of Mario Pagliaro (2010) 'Nano Age: How nanotechnology Changes our Future', Journal of Applied Organometallic Chemistry.

Reports & invited lectures

2016 Anderson, A. Invited speaker 'The Battle to Save the Arctic: Eco-Activism and Energy Futures. University of Leicester, Seminar on Media and Energy, June.

2016 Anderson, A. 'Climate Fiction and Narratives of Hope and Despair', International Communication Association Conference, Tokyo, Japan, June

2015 Anderson, A. Invited speaker 'Communicating Climate Change Futures: The Role of Local News media.' ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science Symposium on Climate Change and the Media, Lancaster University, 21 September.

2015 Anderson, A. 'The Media Politics of Microplastics and Environmental Literacy', Conference on Communication and the Environment, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 11-14 June.

2013 Anderson, A. Invited speaker 'The Mediatization of Environmental Conflict in the 'Network Society'. International Seminar', 'The mediatization of conflicts: How media condition modern conflicts', Copenhagen, 23-25 October.

2013 Anderson, A. 'A Lost Polar Bear in London: Visualising Climate Change and UK National Press Coverage of the Rio+20 Summit', Fifth International Climate Change Conference, 17-18 July.

2013 Anderson, A. 'Organising and Integrating Knowledge on Environmental Communication. Panel at International Communication Association Conference, London, 21 June.

2012 Anderson, A. Keynote speaker. 'Commodifying nature: Environmental politics and the network society', Media Research on Climate Change: Where have we been and where are we heading?
Örebro University, Sweden, 4-5 December.

2012 Anderson, A. 'The Network Society and the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster', Centre for Culture, Community and Society Symposium on Researching Nature, Culture and Learning, Institute of Health and Community, Plymouth University, 28th November.

2012 Anderson, A. Invited speaker. 'Polymers in Nanotechnology Food Packaging: Public Perceptions and Health Risks'. COST workshop on 'Safety, Ethics and Societal Impacts', NanotechITALY conference, Venice, 23rd November.

2012 Anderson, A. Invited speaker. Panel 4:What would be the consequences and limits, in terms of the project and social-economic impact, of integrating ethics within emerging technology development? EGAIS Final Conference 'The ethics of the future: co-responsible implementation of governance approaches in technological projects', Brussels, 23rd January.

2011 Anderson, A. and Sutton, C. 'Embedding a Methods Toolkit within a Sociology Field-trip'. Presentation at CSAP Showcase Event, Birmingham, 24th October.

2011 Anderson, A. 'Commodifying Nature: Celebrity News as a Vehicle for Social Change?'. Invited Plenary Speaker, Third International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 21-22 July.

2011 Anderson, A. 'The Globalisation of News and the Changing Politics of Risk', Fourth International Conference on Global Studies, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 18-20 July.

2011 Anderson, A. ‘Environmental Communication in the Network Society’, Invited speaker, School of Social Sciences Wageningen University communication science seminar series, 19 May.

2010 Anderson, A. and Petersen, P. 'Framing Nano: Scientists' and Policymaker's Representations of Ethical Questions', EASST, Trento, Italy, September 2-4.

2009 Anderson, A. 'Media, Stigma and Risk: Will Nanotech be the Next GM?, School of Social and Political Inquiry Research Seminar, Monash University, Australia, April 15.

2008 Anderson, A. Invited speaker 'Environmental Communication Research: Towards a New Era', Panel on forming an international environmental communication organisation, ECREA, Barcelona, November.

2008 Anderson, A. ' "There's No Global Warming - I Want My Money Back": The Media Politics of Climate Change', All Our Futures, University of Plymouth, September.

2007 Anderson, A. Keynote speaker 'Regulating Chemical Risks: Beyond the Risk Society', Regulating Chemical Risks: Science, Politics and the Media International Conference, Södertörn University College, Stockholm, August 15-17.

2006 Anderson, A., Petersen, A., Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. 'Nanofutures: Press Framing of Emerging Technologies in a Risk Society', International Sociological Association, Durban, South Africa, 23-28th July.

2006 Anderson, A. Invited speaker 'The News Media and Risk: Beyond the ‘Risk Society’', BSA Health, Risk and Society Conference, University of Kent, 3-5 September.

2006 Anderson, A., Petersen, A., Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. ' Framing Emergent Health Risks in the Press: Scientists' and Journalists' Views on the Coverage of Nanotechnologies,' BSA Medical Sociology 38th Annual Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 14-16 September.

2005 Petersen, A. Anderson, A. Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. 'A fantastic voyage?: the making of news on nano-medicine', British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Study Group Annual Conference, York, UK, 15-17 September.

2005 Petersen, A., Anderson, A., Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. 'Nanotechnology and news production: a report of key findings', Nanotechnologies, Media and Public Engagement One-Day Workshop, Watershed, Bristol, 13 September.

2005 Anderson, A., Petersen, A., Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. Invited speaker 'Framing Environmental Risk: UK Press Reporting on Nanotechnologies, ISA Conference, 'Environment, Knowledge and Democracy', July, Marseille, France.

2005 Anderson, A., Allan, S. Petersen, A., Wilkinson, C., ‘Textual representations of nanotechnology in the UK’, American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 17-21 February, Washington, DC, USA.

2005 Petersen,A., Anderson, A. and Allan,S., ‘Representing risk: the news media politics of nanotechnology’, Learning about risk, SCARR (Social Contexts and Responses to Risk) Launch Conference, 28-29 January, University of Kent, Canterbury.

2005 Petersen, A. Anderson, A. Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. 'A fantastic voyage?: the making of news on nano-medicine', British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Study Group Annual Conference, York, UK, 15-17 September.

2005 Petersen, A., Anderson, A., Allan, S. and Wilkinson, C. 'Nanotechnology and news production: a report of key findings', Watershed, Bristol, 13 September.

2004 Anderson, A., Allan, S. and Petersen,A. 'Pictoral and Textual Representations of Nanotechnology in the UK Press, University of South Carolina, Columbia, March.

2004 Anderson, A. 'West Devon Environmental Network and Community Environmental Action', ESRC Citizenship & the Environment Seminar Series, 29-30 April, Open University, Milton Keynes.

2004 Petersen, A., Anderson, A. and Allan, A. ‘Designer babies and manufactured risks: medical genetics in the print news media’, British Sociological Association Risk and Society Study Group, ‘Taking Stock of Risk’, University of Nottingham, 6-7 September.

2004 Petersen, A., Anderson, A. and Allan, S. ‘Designer genes hit the headlines: how the press may heighten publics’ perceptions of risk in its reporting of medical genetics issues’, Cesagen, Genomics and Society, 2-3 March, Carlton House Terrace, London.

2004 Anderson, A. Petersen, A., & Allan, S. ‘Nanotechnology in the news: representing risk’, European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST), 25-28 August, Paris.

2004 Allan, S., Anderson, A. and Petersen, A.‘Defining Risk: British Press Reporting on Nanotechnology,’ Annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), Porto Alegre, Brazil, 25-30 July.

2003 Anderson, A. 'News Media Organisations and Oil Spill Coverage'. Invited speaker at International Oil Spill Conference, Vancouver, Canada, April.

2001 Anderson, A. ‘The Media Politics of Oil Spills’, Invited paper presented to the First International Conference on Marine Environmental Challenges, Beyond Crisis Science and Emergency Legislation: What do we Really Know?, University of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Mass. USA, February.

2001 Anderson, A. ‘Articulating Nature: The Construction of Nature and the Environment in Television Advertising in the UK, Germany and Denmark’, European Association for Consumer Research, Berlin, June.

2001 Anderson, A. ‘Mediating the Environment’. Invited speaker at Royal Society of Arts Special Session on Communicating Science, Science Festival, Glasgow, September.

Other academic activities

Consultant for Australian Federal Government Report on ‘The Social and Economic Impacts of Nanotechnologies: A Review of the Literature’ .

Visiting Professor at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia (School of Social Sciences).