Presented by Dr Matthias Benzer, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield


The paper considers the QALY (quality-adjusted life year) framework, which is used for cost-effectiveness assessments of health technologies by organisations such as the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, against the backdrop of existing conceptions of contemporary biopolitics.

The paper asks what current theories of biopolitics can contribute to deciphering the political dimension of the QALY method. It sets out from a critical engagement with the allegation that QALYs constitute components of 20th century deathmaking projects.  It then proceeds to examine the resonances between the QALY framework and what Michel Foucault has described as a liberal politics of life.

Finally, the paper investigates whether more recent theories of advanced
liberalism and neoliberalism can shed light on the QALY method’s political orientation.  It is argued that current conceptions of biopolitics capture several key aspects of the QALY framework.  However, closer examinations of how this method operates may also sharpen our understanding of the politics of life in the early 21st century.


This series of seminars was organised by WISERD’s team at Bangor University.

Details on each event are available in the table below. Events are open to all.

Date Speaker Title
30 January Professor John Lovering, Visiting Professor at School of Political Science, Istanbul University Celebrity Marxism: Bad Economics and Worse Sociology. The Global Rise and Impact of David Harvey
13 February Dr Myfanwy Davies, School of Social Sciences, Bangor University Oughtonomy: Beyond Deliberation in Mothers’ Decisions on HPV Vaccination for Teenage Daughters
6 March Daniel Evans, School of Social Sciences, Bangor University Welsh Identity in “British Wales”: A Case Study
17 April Professor Luke Clements, Cardiff Law School, Cardiff University Does Your Carer Take Sugar? Caring as a Human Right
8 May Dr Gilly Sharpe, School of Law, University of Sheffield Doing Justice to Girls
22 May Professor Rob Poole and Dr John Bailey, Centre for Mental Health and Society, Bangor University Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatric Practice: An Evidence Based Approach
5 June TBC TBC



For more information on these events please contact Professor Howard Davis using the contact details below.

Telephone: 01248 382123