'People Like You': Contemporary Figures of Personalisation


This research project aims to contribute to critical medical humanities by investigating an emergent culture of personalisation in the UK, associated with concepts of the person and health.

We expect to stimulate debate on personalised medicine by showing how it can be understood more fully in relation to other personalising practices and how features shared across this broad field are consequential for our wellbeing. Our innovative figural approach will be applied to case studies in both top-down and open-ended practices of personalisation in medicine, data science and digital culture. In collaboration with creative consultants, we will conduct practice-led research to produce additional insight into the role of participation in, and the sense made of, personalisation. Our aim is to put the ‘person’ back into personalisation, and relate such persons to the data collected from them and on their behalf. This approach will allow is to investigate individuals’ sense of self, agency and identification with others. It will allow us to consider the implications of new techniques for stratifying ‘persons’ precisely in shaping health outcomes and healthcare priorities. In sum, we will assess whether personalising practices, considered together, are influencing taken-for-granted concepts of the person with consequences for individual and collective health.

The project is funded by a Wellcome Collaborative Award in the Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, Grant Reference: UNS32973, 2018-2022.

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Research strands

What is personalisation?
Research Ethics & Integrity Sub-Committee (REISC): 1385
Researchers and Collaborators: Prof Sophie Day (Goldsmiths, Principal Investigator); Dr William Viney (Goldsmiths, Research Associate).
Duration: 12 months (May 2018 – May 2019).

Personalisation in breast cancer medicine and healthcare: an ethnography of research and participation
Please see PERC for further details

Principal Investigators   

For more information about the project, please visit peoplelikeyou.ac.uk