Thomas Tierney

Tom Tierney

Professor - Sociology and Anthropology; Liaison to the Public Health Pathway

Office: Kauke 011
Phone: 330-263-2153


  • B.A., Moravian 1979
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts 1990

Courses Taught

  • SOCI 100: Introduction to Sociology
  • SOCI 204: Self and Society
  • SOCI 350: Classical Social Theory
  • SOCI 351: Contemporary Social Theory
  • SOAN 202: Globalizing Health (team-taught with Dr. Christa Craven)

Awards and Professional Memberships

  • American Sociological Association
  • American Political Science Association
  • Research Fellow, Center for Biomedicine and Society, Kings College, London
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Visiting Scholar
  • Participant in several National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes

Publications (Selected)

  • “The Best Doctor for my Soul’: How the Parrhesiastic Relationship between Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and René Descartes Belies Descartes’ Dualism and Foucault’s Neoliberalism,” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, forthcoming 2018.
  • “Toward an Affirmative Biopolitics,” Sociological Theory, 34, 2 (December 2016): 358-81.
  • "Roberto Esposito's Affirmative Biopolitics' and the Gift," Theory, Culture, and Society, 33, 2 (March 2016): 53-76.
  • "Punctual Selves, Punctual Death, and the Health-Conscious Cogito: Descartes' Dead Bodies," Economy and Society, 41, 2 (May 2012): 258-81.
  • "The Governmentality of Suicide: Peuchet, Marx, Durkheim, and Foucault," The Journal of Classical Sociology, 10, 4 (November 2010):357-389.
  • "Suicidal Thoughts: Hobbes, Foucault, and the Right to Die," Philosophy & Social Criticism,32, 5 (July 2006): 601-38.
  • "Foucault on the Case: The Pastoral and Juridical Foundation of Medical Power," The Journal of the Medical Humanities, 25, 4 (Winter 2004): 271-90


Professor Tierney’s research employs classical and contemporary social theory to interpret the social implications of advanced medical technologies, such as the growing “bioeconomy” of human tissues, as well as current bioethical dilemmas, such as the “right to die” movement.  His most recent research applies the “gift-exchange” tradition (which derives from the work of anthropologist Marcel Mauss) to the bioeconomy, as part of an international effort to conceptualize an affirmative “biopolitics.”  His publications have appeared in numerous international social theory journals.


Prior to joining the Wooster faculty in 1999, he was an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Concord College (1990-98), and in Spring 1999 served as a National Endowment for the Humanities visiting Scholar at Otterbein College.  While on research leave in 2010-11, he was a Research Fellow at the Center for Biomedicine and Society, Kings College, London.