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Martin A. French, PhD

Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Martin A. French, PhD


PhD Sociology. Queen's University

Research Program

As a sociologist, I study the social dimensions of technology with an empirical focus on communications & information technology (CIT). My research emphasizes the broader social and political contexts of CIT, focusing especially on risk, surveillance, privacy, and social justice.

Teaching activities


Risk Society-Surveillance Society (SOCI-ANTH 298)
Social Problems (SOCI 261)
Contemporary Issues in Human Rights (SOCI-ANTH 380)
Field Research (SOCI 415)
Surveillance Studies (SOCI-ANTH 484)


Studies in Governance (SOCI 642)
Qualitative Research Design and Methods (SOCI 613)

Research activities

Current Research

In my view, social justice describes the historic and ongoing struggle for an equitable distribution of justice in our societies. What does it mean to think about risk-management and surveillance systems through a social justice lens? In my current research, I want to understand how people and organizations use surveillance and other risk-management techniques to identify and address risks. Furthermore, I want to understand who may be advantaged, and who may be disadvantaged, by surveillance and risk-management practices. What impacts, in other words, do surveillance and risk-management practices have on our collective efforts to realize social justice?


Surveillance & Risk Management in Public Health & Medical Care

In one domain of inquiry, I work with colleagues to address this over-arching question in public health and medical care settings. Here are some recent examples of this work:
  • French, Martin, Adrian Guta, Marilou Gagnon, Eric Mykhalovskiy, Stephen Roberts, Alexander McClelland, Su Goh, and Fenwick McKelvey (2020). “Corporate Contact Tracing as a Pandemic Response,” Critical Public Health, DOI.
  • Mykhalovskiy, Eric and Martin French (2020). “COVID-19, Public Health, and the Politics of Prevention,” Sociology of Health & Illness, 42(8): 4-15, DOI.
  • Chung, Cecilia, Naina Khanna, Barb Cardell, Andrew Spieldenner, Sean Strub, Alexander McClelland, Martin French, Marilou Gagnon, and Adrian Guta. (2019). “Consent and Criminalisation Concerns Over Phylogenetic Analysis of Surveillance Data,” The Lancet HIV 6(7): PE420, DOI.
  • French, Martin, Fiona A. Miller and Renata Axler (2019). “‘It’s actually part of clinical care’: biobanking in the entrepreneurial hospital,” Technoscienza 9(2): 133-158, URL.


Surveillance & Risk Management in Everyday Online Consumption

In another domain of inquiry, we are critically examining efforts to regulate (or leverage) ‘dangerous,’ ‘risky,’ and ‘addictive’ forms of digitally-mediated consumption. With a focus on what might be termed the ‘gamblification’ of games—the incorporation of addictive, gambling-like retention mechanics into games and other gamified online activities—we consider who is set up to win, and who loses, in contemporary (personal) information economies. Here are some recent examples of this work:

  • French, Martin, Myriam Tardif, Sylvia Kairouz and Annie-Claude Savard (Forthcoming). “A Governmentality of Online Gambling: Quebec’s Contested Internet Gambling Website Blocking Provisions,” Canadian Journal of Law & Society.
  • Whitson, Jennifer and Martin French (2021). “Productive Play: The Shift from Responsible Consumption to Responsible Production,” Journal of Consumer Culture, DOI.
  • Zanescu, Andrei, Marc Lajeunesse, and Martin French (2021). “Speculating on Steam: Consumption in the Gamblified Platform Ecosystem,” Journal of Consumer Culture, DOI.
  • Zanescu, Andrei, Martin French, and Marc Lajeunesse (2020). “Betting on DOTA2’s Battle Pass: Gamblification and Productivity in Play,” New Media & Society, DOI.

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