Dr Sarah MaslenAssistant Professor of Sociology


Address: Building 11, Level B, University of Canberra


Centre for Change Governance


Faculty of Business, Government & Law

Research Interests

Sociology of the senses, cultural sociology, Microsociology, sociology of risk and disasters, organisational sociology, sociology of health and medicine, sociology of science and technology, symbolic interactionism, ethnography

Connect with Sarah


Sarah Maslen is Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Business, Government & Law. Her research has 2 strands: sociology of risk, and sociology of the senses. This research has a consistent interest in knowledge, learning, and expertise in occupational contexts.

Her work in the area of risk is focused on complex sociotechnical systems, with a particular interest in catastrophic risk and knowledge management. She has delivered three funded research projects in this area, on topics including the development of professional expertise and values among early-career engineers, senior executive incentive arrangements and decision-making motivations in hazardous industries, and the extent to which incident reporting systems function as collective knowledge. She is currently extending this work by examining safety frames, and interviewing elites.

Her work on the senses engages with fundamental questions about human learning, communities, identity, and expert practice. Her major study in this area is on hearing in four occupational contexts, including musicians, Morse operators, adventurers, and doctors. It engages with how hearing is acquired, how it is used, and its guiding principles in different specialised contexts. She is currently extending this work by examining new work technologies and work futures.

Dr Maslen completed her PhD at The Australian National University (ANU). In her previous position she was a Research Fellow in the ANU School of Sociology.


Selected Publications:

  • Maslen, S. (2016). ‘Sensory work of diagnosis: a crisis of legitimacy’, The Senses & Society 11:2, 158-176

  • Hayes, J. and Maslen, S. (2015), “Knowing stories that matter: learning for effective safety decision-making”, Journal of Risk Research, 18, 6, 714-726

  • Maslen, S. (2015), “Organisational factors for learning in the Australian gas pipeline industry”, Journal of Risk Research, 18, 7, pp. 896-909
  • Maslen, S. (2015), “Researching the senses as knowledge: a case study of learning to hear medically”, The Senses & Society, 10, 1, pp. 52-70
  • Hopkins, A. and Maslen, S. (2015), Risky Rewards: How Company Bonuses Affect Safety, Surrey, Ashgate

  • Maslen, S. and Hopkins, A. (2014), “Do incentives work? A qualitative study of managers’ motivations”, Safety Science, 70, pp. 419-
  • Maslen, S. (2014), “Learning to prevent disaster: Building safety knowledge among new engineers to the Australian gas pipeline industry”, Safety Science, 64, pp. 82-89
  • Maslen, S. and Hayes, J. (2014), “Experts under the microscope: the Wivenhoe Dam case”, Environment, Systems and Decisions, 34, 2, pp. 183-193
  • Maslen, S. (2013), ‘“Playing like a girl”: practices and performance ideals at the piano’, Performance Enhancement and Health, 2, 1, pp. 3-7
Research Projects & Grants
PhD Supervision

Areas of Supervision:

  • Sociology of the senses
  • Cultural sociology
  • Microsociology
  • Sociology of risk and disasters
  • Organisational sociology
  • Sociology of health and medicine
  • Sociology of science and technology
  • Symbolic interactionism
  • Ethnography

Involvement in PhD Supervisory Panels:


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