Susan Sered

Professor of Sociology, Suffolk University
Senior Researcher, Center for Women's Health and Human Rights
Chapter Member: Boston SSN

Connect with Susan

About Susan

Sered’s work explores how individuals and groups experience illness, death and suffering, as well as the ways in which powerful institutions manage, or do not manage, to exert control over those experiences. She is committed to hearing the voices of people affected by social and public policies, and has studied and written about the struggles of Americans who do not have health insurance, the impact of the Affordable Care Act on these American men and women, and the experiences of criminalized women as they cycle through shelters, rehabilitation facilities, homelessness and prison. Sered is frequently called upon to provide expert testimony regarding health and criminal justice legislation at Massachusetts legislative hearings.

In the News

Opinion: "A New Women’s Prison Is Not the Answer," Susan Sered, CommonWealth, July 11, 2022.
Opinion: "A New Women’s Prison Would Be a Mistake," Susan Sered (with Erin Braatz), Commonwealth Magazine, January 16, 2021.
Opinion: "How Understanding Pain Could Curb Opioid Addiction," Susan Sered, The Conversation, May 15, 2018.
Opinion: "Involuntary Commitment of Drug Users Wrong Approach," Susan Sered, CommonWealth, May 3, 2018.
Quoted by Lois Ahrens in "Jailing Women Comes at Big Cost," Daily Hampshire Gazette, February 15, 2018.
Opinion: "For Mississippi, the Senate Bill Would Spell Disaster," Susan Sered, Hattiesburg American, July 9, 2017.
Opinion: "The GOP’s Comprehensive Plan to Undermine Women’s Health Care," Susan Sered, Huffington Post, June 20, 2017.
Opinion: "Mental Healthcare and the 2016 Election," Susan Sered, The Hill, October 25, 2016.
Opinion: "Beyond Opportunity," Susan Sered, Democracy Journal, September 23, 2016.
Opinion: "The Social Implications of Zika," Susan Sered, The Hill, August 19, 2016.
Opinion: "Questioning the 'Opioid Crisis'," Susan Sered, Metro West Daily News, June 19, 2016.
Opinion: "The Cavity in Health Insurance Coverage: Oral Health," Susan Sered, The Conversation, April 20, 2016.
Regular contributions by Susan Sered to Truth Out.
Regular contributions by Susan Sered to Bitch Media.
Guest on Radio Health Journal, November 14, 2014.
Opinion: "Be Careful about Sending Domestic Abusers to Jail. It Might Make Them More Violent," Susan Sered, The Washington Post, September 12, 2014.
Opinion: "Scripting Suffering in an Age of Personal Responsibility," Susan Sered, Contexts, May 21, 2014.
Guest on WBUR, August 20, 2013.
Guest on Bitch Magazine Podcast, 2012.


"Can’t Catch a Break: Gender, Jail, Drugs, and the Limits of Personal Responsibility" (with Maureen Norton-Hawk) (University of California Press, 2014).

Documents the day-to-day lives of forty women as they struggle to survive sexual abuse, violent communities, ineffective social and therapeutic programs, discriminatory local and federal policies, criminalization, incarceration, and a broad cultural consensus that views suffering as a consequence of personal flaws and bad choices.

"Lessons for Women’s Health from the Massachusetts Reform: Affordability, Transitions and Choice" (with Marilyn Delle Donne Proulx). Women’s Health Issues 21, no. 1 (2011): 1-5.

Looks at how women fared post-reform in Massachusetts, this article breaks down the actual out-of-pocket costs for women who select a variety of high or low premium and co-payment plans.

"Whose Higher Power: Criminalized Women Confront the Twelve Steps" (with Maureen Norton-Hawk). Feminist Criminology 6, no. 4 (2011): 308-322.

Questions the near-universal acceptance of twelve step programs in health care as well as correctional settings.

"Uninsured in America: Life and Death in the Land of Opportunity, 2nd Edition" (with Rushika Fernandopulle) (University of California Press, 2005).

Examines why millions Americans fall through the cracks in the health care system, and what it means for society as a whole when so many people suffer the consequences of inadequate medical care. 

"Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister: Religions Dominated by Women" (Oxford University Press, 1994).

Explores situations in which women are the religious leaders. Includes Korean shamanism, nineteenth-century Spiritualists, and the Sande secret societies of West Africa, Christian Science, the Caribs of Belize, and the contemporary Feminist Spirituality movement.