Ariel Ducey image

Ariel Ducey


Contact information

Web presence

Phone number

Office: +1 (403) 220-5054


Educational Background

B.A. Cultural Studies, University of Minnesota, 1994

Doctor of Philosophy Sociology, City University of New York, 2004


Areas of Research

Data, Touch, Technology and Medical Care

My current research focuses on data, touch, technology and medical care, through a series of projects that deepen my longstanding interest in how we come to understand what is "right," especially in disciplined and disciplinary spaces that are oriented toward the colllective good but can also cause and justify significant harm. This work has been developed in collaboration with my UCalgary colleagues Drs. Pratim Sengupta (Professor, Department of Learning Sciences, Werklund School of Education) and Martina Kelly (Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine), and graduate students at the University of Calgary.

We received a grant from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) for our project  “Data, Touch, Technology and Medical Care” (2020-24; $246,861). This federal grant program is meant to support trandisciplinary research, and as part of our collaborative work we developed a pubic installation, "Moral Horizons of Pain," which recently received a Making and Doing Award from the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), when we presented it at the 4S Annual Meeting in 2023. The installation  is described in a recent paper in the Canadian Theatre Review. See also our group's website:

Moral Economies of Knowledge

For a number of years I was involved in  collaborative work with colleagues in medicine and health services research, Drs. Magali Robert and Sue Ross, which focused on the nature of knowledge, moral judgment, and changes in practice in pelvic floor surgery. Our publications from this work can be found here: As part of this work I was principal Investigator for a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Catalyst Grant on Ethics: “Moral Economies, Ethics, and Improving Health Care: A Qualitative Study of the Adoption of Devices and Procedures in Pelvic Floor Surgery” (2015-2017), $98,883. 

Frontline Care Work

My 2009 book, Never Good Enough (Cornell University Press), examines frontline health care work in New York City and the politics of a state-funded training industry for frontline health care providers, which was vastly expanded in the late 1990s as part of a Faustian bargain between the powerful private sector health care labor union (SEIU 1199), politicians and health care executives to compensate for the effects of neoliberal healthcare restructuring and deteriorating working conditions. It is a story of how frontline care providers, primarily women of color and immigrants working as nursing assistants, were making a living and carving out meaning and opportunity at the intersection of two industries — health care and education — both of which were being increasingly privatized and organized according to the logic of markets.

Affect, Embodiment and Sensory Politics

See my website and related publications, including:

Ducey, Ariel. “More Than a Job: Meaning, Affect, and Training Health Care Workers,” Pp. 187-208 in The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social, Patricia Clough and Jean Halley, eds., Duke University Press, 2007.

Sengupta, Pratim, Ariel Ducey, Martina Kelly, Erin Knox. “Moral Horizons of Pain,” Canadian Theatre Review, forthcoming, 2023.

Ducey, Ariel, Claudia Donoso, Sue Ross, Magali Robert. “The (Commercialised) Experience of Operating: Embodied Preferences, Ambiguous Variations and Explaining Widespread Patient Harm,” Sociology of Health and Illness, 45(2): 346-365, 2023.

Dutta, Santanu, Pratim Sengupta, Ariel Ducey. “Sensing Someone Else’s Pain: Ethical Historical Traces of Disciplined Interactions in Medical Care,” Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS 2022, Hiroshima Japan.


  • Teaching Excellence Award, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Calgary, 2009
  • Honourable Mention, Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Awards, University of Calgary, 2006