Melanie White

Deputy Head of School, Eduction - School of Social Sciences
Associate Professor

Melanie White is Deputy Head of School (Education) in the School of Social Sciences. She is Associate Professor in Sociology (Social Theory) and a Fellow of the UNSW Scientia Education Academy.

Melanie has always been fascinated by what we mean by the 'social.' Her current research concerns the place of biology and animality in the constitution of the discipline of sociology in 19C France. She has a particular interest in the social theories of Emile Durkheim, Gabriel Tarde, Henri Bergson, Michel Foucault and Georges Canguilhem.  She is interested in questions about the relations between habits & creativity, error & uncertainty, and finding the point at which the ordinary becomes extraordinary in everyday life.  She also enjoys rediscovering lost and forgotten thinkers and considering how they contribute to contemporary debates in social theory and our understanding of everyday life.  She has published in high-ranking international journals such as Body & Society, Journal of Classical Sociology and Economy and Society. Her book Bergson, Politics, and Religion co-edited with Alexandre Lefebvre (University of Sydney) is published with Duke University Press.

Melanie is also Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

Book Chapters
Lefebvre A; White M, 2020, 'Bergson and Social Theory', in Lefebvre A; Schott NF (ed.), Interpreting Bergson: Critical Essays, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 139 - 154,
White M, 2019, 'The Politics of Sympathy in Bergson's 'The Two Sources of Morality and Religion'', in Pitts AJ; Westmoreland MW (ed.), Beyond Bergson: Examining race and colonialism through the writings of Henri Bergson, State University of New York Press, Albany, pp. 57 - 76,
White M, 2019, 'Citizenship', in Bergès S; Botting EH; Coffee A (ed.), The Wollstonecraftian Mind, Routledge, London,
White MA, 2016, 'Sympathy and the Criminological Imagination', in Frauley J (ed.), C. Wright Mills and the Criminological Imagination Prospects for Creative Inquiry, Routledge, New York, pp. 147 - 161,
White MA, 2015, 'Sympathy and the Criminological Imagination', in Frauley, Jon (ed.), C. Wright Mills and the Criminological Imagination, Ashgate, Surrey, UK, pp. 147 - 161,
Lefebvre A; White M, 2012, 'Introduction', in Bergson, Politics, and Religion, Duke University Press, pp. 1 - 21,
Lefebvre A; White M, 2012, 'Bergson, Politics, and Religion', in Lefebvre A; White M (ed.), Bergson, Politics, and Religion, edn. Original, Duke University Press, Durham, pp. 1 - 21,
Lefebvre A; White M, 2012, 'Religion Within the Bounds of Emotion Alone: Bergson and Kant', in Spencer D; Walby K; Hunt A (ed.), Emotions Matter: For a Relational Approach to Emotions, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, pp. 102 - 123,
White M, 2008, 'Can an Act of Citizenship be Creative?', in Isin E; Nielsen G (ed.), Acts of Citizenship, edn. Original, Zed Books, London, pp. 44 - 56
White M, 1999, 'Neo-liberalism and the Rise of the Citizen as Consumer', in Broad D; Antony W (ed.), Citizens or Consumers? Social Policy in a Market Society, edn. Original, Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, Canada, pp. 56 - 64,
Journal articles
White M, 2015, 'Bergson and Bergsonism: A Reply to Riggio', Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, vol. 4, pp. 40 - 44,
Walker C; White M, 2014, 'Police, design, plan and manage: developing a framework for integrating staff roles and institutional policies into a plagiarism prevention strategy', Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 36, pp. 674 - 687,
White MA, 2014, 'Derrida and Durkheim on Suffering', Sub-Stance: a review of theory and literary criticism, vol. 43, pp. 100 - 114,
White M, 2013, 'Habit as a Force of Life in Durkheim and Bergson', Body and Society, vol. 19, pp. 240 - 262,
White M, 2012, 'Review Essay: The Social After Gabriel Tarde', Journal of Cultural Economy, vol. 5, pp. 361 - 367
Lefebvre A; White M, 2010, 'Bergson on Durkheim: Society sui generis', Journal of Classical Sociology, vol. 10, pp. 457 - 477,
Lefebvre A; White M, 2010, 'Bergson on Durkheim: Society sui generis', Journal of Classical Sociology, vol. 10, pp. 457 - 477,
Lefebvre A; White M, 2010, 'Mary Wollstonecraft's Civic Perfectionism', Citizenship Studies, vol. 14, pp. 461 - 471,
White M, 2006, 'The Dispositions of Good Citizenship: Character, Symbolic Power and Disinterest', Journal of Civil Society, vol. 2, pp. 111 - 122
White M, 2006, 'An Ambivalent Civility', Canadian Journal of Sociology - Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie, vol. 31, pp. 445 - 460
White M, 2005, 'The Liberal Character of Ethological Governance', Economy and Society, vol. 34, pp. 475 - 493
White M, 2005, 'On the Recent Apocalyptic Tone Adopted in Canadian Sociology', Canadian Journal of Sociology - Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie, vol. 30, pp. 537 - 544
White M; Hunt A, 2000, 'Citizenship: Care of the Self, Character and Personality', Citizenship Studies, vol. 4, pp. 93 - 116
Edited Books
White M; Lefebvre A, (ed.), 2012, Bergson, Politics, and Religion, Duke University Press, Durham,

2019   Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), UK

2019   The Michael Wearing Memorial Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision, UNSW Sydney

2018    UNSW Scientia Education Academy Fellow, 2019-2022

2017    Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence (General Category), UNSW Sydney

2016    Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision Award, ARC Postgraduate Student Council, UNSW Student Life and Dean of Graduate Research School, UNSW Sydney 

2015    Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence (General Category), Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney

2006    Nominated, Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching, Trent University, Canada

2002    Teaching Excellence Award, Carleton University Students' Association, Carleton University, Canada


Teaching Areas

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory


Current Teaching

ARTS1870 Rethinking the Social (T1 2021)


Honours Supervision (Completed Projects)

Zara Khan (2020) Order your essay today! Investigating the relationship between contract cheating services and student behaviours (Criminology, UNSW Sydney)

Dovber Seldowitz (2020) Women’s Leadership in the Contemporary Hasidic Community: Its Prevalence, Development, and Relation to Hasidic Religious Discourse (Sociology and Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Maya Ghattas (2019) In the Image of Death: A Nature Not Equal to Nature. (Sociology and Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Ellen Jacobs (2019) Disciplined Autonomy: A Synthesised Concept and its Holistic Analysis of Crime Prevention Techniques. (Sociology and Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Ida Ioannou-Marsh (2017) Political Purity and Innate Politics (Sociology and Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Victoria Rae (2017) Where have all the experts gone?  A sociological consideration of post-truth and non-traditional news outlets (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Yvette Kiddle (2016) Imitation to Educate Children:  What Happens to Liberty? (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Roxarne Moon (2015) In Defence of Home (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney), Recipient of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Honours Student Award

Nicholas Langley (2014) The Festival of Distraction: The Search for Community (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Rickie-Lee McLauren-Smith (2014) Uprooting Apathy: Towards Environmental Ethics of Care (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Holi Birman (2012) Stillness and Remembering the Self (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney), Recipient of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Honours Student Award

Paula Houseman (2012) The Cancer Myth (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney)

Na’ama Carlin (2010)  (W)riting the Body and the Circumcised Text (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW Sydney), Recipient of the Sol Encel Honours Thesis Prize

Meagan Curtis (2008) Thomas Kuhn as Evolutionary Epistemologist (Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University, Canada)