Deborah Potter, PhD

Associate Professor


Deborah A. Potter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Louisville.  Informed primarily by social constructionism and structuralist theories, her three primary areas of research include: a) lay/public involvement in health/mental health policy and service delivery; b) medicalization and healthicization of social behaviors among marginalized populations; and c) illness careers of somatic/psychiatric multi-morbidities. With a joint PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Brandeis University, her work spans substantive, theoretical, and policy issues in these areas. For over eight years, including the time she wrote her dissertation, she worked in a non-profit agency as a lead evaluator of state and national mental health programs. Prior to that, for ten years, she was a health research scientist for a health policy research organization. She teaches undergraduate courses in medical sociology; sociology of women’s health; sociology of mental health; sociology of disability; social policy; and research methods. In the PhD program, she teaches courses and independent studies in social policy, and the sociology of health and illness. She was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (2018-2021). Outside of her academic life, she pursues her passion for dog agility. 

Research Areas
Medical sociology
Mental health lay professional collaboration in health/mental health policy and service delivery
Medicalization of vulnerable and marginalized populations
Social inequality in health and health care

Teaching Areas
SOC 303 Research Methods

SOC 435 Medicine, Health and Illness
SOC 440 The Health Care System
SOC 442 Sociology of Disabilities
SOC 450 Health Social Movements and Health Activism
SOC 740 Social Policy