Christopher J. Fries, Ph.D.

Associate Professor (tenured)



Christopher J. Fries is a social and behavioural health scientist who is interested in understanding relationship amongst social location, culture, embodiment, health beliefs, health behaviour, and personal and structural health determinants and outcomes.  As such his primary research interests are in health lifestyles and behaviour, embodiment, critical public health, the social determinants of health, and medical pluralism, and medicalization. He has published sociological research investigating: the social determinants of health; health lifestyles; medicalization; use of complementary / alternative medicine; the relationship between ethnicity and the use of alternative healing practices; multiculturalism; family physicians opinions of alternative medical therapies; and the emergence of integrative medicine.  He is the co-author of a leading Canadian textbook of health sociology (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2017) which has been adopted for health studies and health sociology courses in more than 20 Canadian universities and colleges.



health and society; health care; health lifestyles; self-care; salutogenesis; sociology of the body / embodiment; social determinants of health; critical public health; complementary / alternative / integrative medicine; medical pluralism;  medical consumerism; medicalization, multiculturalism; mixed methods research; reflexive sociology

Degrees / Certificates:

Research Integrity Online Course: Social and Behavioural Sciences, 2013, University of Manitoba
Course in Human Research Participant Protection (CHRPP), 2011, Queen's University
Ph.D., University of Calgary, Sociology of Health, Medicine, and the Body, April, 2006.
University Teaching Certificate, University of Calgary, April, 2003.
Graduate Citation in University Teaching, University of Regina, December, 2001.
M.A., Sociology, University of Guelph, 1998.
University Teaching: Theory and Practice Certificate, University of Guelph, April, 1997.
B.A. (High Honours), Sociology and Psychology, University of Regina, 1996.

Teaching Areas:


At the undergraduate level, I regularly teach “Introduction to Sociology” (SOC 1200), “The Sociology of Health and Illness” (SOC 2490), "The Sociology of the Body" (SOC 2450) and “The Sociology of Health Care Systems” (SOC 3540).  


At the graduate level, I teach a seminar in “Issues in Health Care” (SOC 7370).  I am interested in supervising graduate students with interests in health sociology, broadly defined, and in serving on graduate student committees.  I have worked with the following honours and graduate students:

2019 - present. Juliet Brainoo (Department of Sociology and Criminology and Department of Community Health Sciences). Supervisor, Masters Thesis

2019 - present. Jessa M. Hogarth (Department of Psychology). External Examiner, Ph.D. Dissertation Committe.

2019 - present. Janice Tilly (Department of Sociology and Criminology and Department of Community Health Sciences).  Supervisor, Interdisciplinary PhD Dissertation.

2019 - 2020. Maria Paula Rocha (Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management). External Examiner, Masters Thesis.  "From Policy to Practice in Early Childhood Education and Care Centers in Manitoba: ECE Perspectives".

2019 - present. Stephanie Brekelmans (Councelling Psychology). External Examiner, Masters Thesis. "Integrative Review of Deliberate Self-harm in Adult Populations".

2019 - 2020. Murlat-Valerie Georges (Sociology and Criminology), "Light-skin Privilege: How are Western Society's Standards of Beauty Reinforcing olourism and Negatively Affecting the Lives of Black Women?".

2018 - present. Kaitlyn Obedzinski (Sociology and Criminology). Supervisor, PhD Dissertation.

2018 - present. Wing-Sun Chan (Sociology and Criminology). Member, Ph.D. Dissertation Committee.

2018. Cheyenne Slonowski (Sociology), "Redefining Mental Disorder in Ghana: A Humanitarian Warrant for Medicalization".

2017-2018. Jessa M. Hogarth (Department of Psychology). External Examiner, Masters Thesis. "Negative Consequences of Self-Esteem Concealment of Well-Being".

2017-2018. Simrit Deol (Faculty of kinesiology). External Examiner, Masters Thesis. "Immigrant Girls' Lived Experiences with Physical Activity Within Winnipeg, Manitoba: An Intersectionality Approach".

2016-2018. Erin Scott (Sociology). Member, Masters Thesis Committee. "Transitions into Person Care Homes: Polity, Practice, and Lived Experiences".

2016. Anureet Lotay (Department of Anthropology). External Examiner, Masters Thesis. "Disclosure of Psychological Distress by Post-Secondary Students on an Anonymous Social Media Application: An Ethnographic Study".

2015-2016. Megan Campbell (Sociology, co-supervisor), "The Social Construction of a Disorder: How ADHD can be Understood Using a Foucauldian Discourse Analysis".

2014-2015. Maamansa H. Asaam (Sociology). Advisor, Masters Thesis. "Mental Health and Well-being of Refugees to Canada: A Brighter Future".

2015. Vanessa Quiring (Department of History). External Examiner, Masters Thesis. "Mennonites, Community and Disease: Mennonite Diaspora and Responses to the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic in Hanover, Manitoba".

2015. Natalie Vielfaure (Department of History). External Examiner, Masters Thesis. "Medical Records Redefined: The Value of the Archival Record in Medical Research".

2014. Adriana Mudryj (Department of Human Nutritional Sciences). External Examiner, PhD Candidacy Examination. "Estimation of food portion sizes post immigration: Does length of time in Canada influence portion sizes?".

2014. Damien Leggett (Sociology). Supervisor, Homours Thesis. "'At Least You Have a Healthy Baby': Birth Trauma, Manufactured Crises, and the Denial of Women's Experience in Childbirth".

2012. Rachell Dolynchuk (Sociology). Member, Masters Thesis Committee. "Canada's Aging Population: Does Immigrant Status Matter?".

2011-2012 . Uliana Nevzorova (Psychology). Member, Masters Thesis Committee. "Self-Care Narratives by People with a Traumatic Brain Injury".

2011. Jill Bcklaschuk (Sociology). Member, Methods Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Committee.

2009. Dan Wiebe (Sociology). Supervisor, Honours Thesis. "The Marijuana Menace: Changing Concepts of Risk in Public Health Discource".

2007. Sylvia Park (Sociology). Supervisor, Honours Thesis. "Many or One? Self-representation and Identity in L'Arche and DASCH Care Homes".

2007. Nadine Nowatzki (Sociology). Member, Health Sociology Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Committee.

If you are interested in my teaching and courses, please click on the following link to read a Statement of Philosophy Informing my Teaching Practices (PDF) or feel free to contact me for copies of course syllabi. 

Research Interests:

In one of my favourite works of sociology, Invitation To Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective, Peter L. Berger describes the manner in which our identities are socially bestowed, socially maintained, and socially transformed by our lives in society (1963: 98-100). The cultural features of our locations in society affect our understandings of our self and our experiences. What I am interested in sociologically is how people’s location and experiences in the social world influence aspects of our beliefs and social behaviour, such as which healing practices we believe count as “health care”. How do the varying locations and identities of people influence health beliefs and health behaviours? Such issues involve issues of identity, power, and politics. These are topics that interest me from a sociological perspective and this is why I study health lifestyles and medical pluralism.

My research suggests that cultural pluralism and medical pluralism constitute two great pluralisms of our time. Their nexus forces us to consider an unthinkable question of our time: Amid a transnational context in which diversity, difference, and pluralism have become socially normative, what are the limits of pluralism? In explicating the connections of social location, the pursuit of health, and the negotiation of healing, my research seeks to provide a vista on this, an unthinkable question of our time.

The central pursuit of my research interests within the discipline has been to undertake research, which in the spirit of C. Wright Mill’s invocation in The Sociological Imagination (1959), seeks to elucidate the intersections between history and biography. In this effort, I employ both quantitative and qualitative methodologies and frequently make use of mixed methods research designs. I adopt a pluralistic approach to theory, having made extensive use of Bourdieu, Foucault, and Postcolonial theory in my published research.

The manner in which the issues of health, illness, and the body compel health sociologists to explore challenging questions (such as the relationship between bodies, behaviour, society, and health) means that health sociology lays at the heart of the sociological imagination. The understandings health sociologists generate about the nature of the relationship between the individual and society are central not just to the social study of health, but rather speak to all theoretical issues entailed in applying the sociological imagination to the study of society and culture. Simply stated, this means that a way to better understand society and culture is to better understand health, illness, and the human body. This is the task and the promise of the sociological imagination when applied to understanding the pursuit of health and wellness.




1.  Alexander Segall and Christopher J. Fries, Pursuing Health and Wellness: Healthy Societies, Healthy People, (Oxford University Press, 2011, 408p.).

2.  Alexander Segall and Christopher J. Fries, Pursuing Health and Wellness: Healthy Societies, Healthy People, Second Edition, (2017) Oxford University Press (462 pp.). Major revision.

Refereed Journal Articles:

1. Christopher J. Fries and Ken Menzies, (2000). “Gullible Fools or Desperate Pragmatists? A Profile of People Who Use Rejected Alternative Health Care Providers”, Canadian Journal of Public Health. 91 (3), pp. 217-219.

2. Christopher J. Fries and James McNinch, (2003). “Signed Versus Unsigned Student Evaluations of Teaching: A Comparison”, Teaching Sociology, 31 (3), pp. 333-344.

3. Christopher J. Fries, (2005). “Ethnocultural Space and the Symbolic Negotiation of Alternative as ‘Cure’”, Canadian Ethnic Studies. 37(1), pp. 87-100.

4. Christopher J. Fries, (2008). “A Family Physician Based Classification of Complementary and Alternative Medical Practices”, Canadian Family Physician. 54(11), p. 1570-1578e.

5. Christopher J. Fries, (2008). “Governing the Health of the Hybrid Self: Integrative Medicine, Neoliberalism, and the Shifting Biopolitics of Subjectivity”, Health Sociology Review. 17(4), pp. 353-367.

6. Christopher J. Fries, (2009). “Bourdieu’s Reflexive Sociology as a Theoretical Basis for Mixed Methods Research: An Application to Complementary and Alternative Medicine”,  Journal of Mixed Methods Research. 3(4): 326-348.

7. Christopher J. Fries and Paul Gingrich, (2011). “A ‘Great’ Large Family: Understandings of Multiculturalism among Newcomers to Canada”, Refuge: Canada’s Periodical on Refugees. 27(1): 36-49.

8. Christopher J. Fries (2013). “Self-care and Complementary and Alternative Medicine as Care for the Self: An Embodied Basis for Distinction”, Health Sociology Review. 22(1): 37-51.

9. Christopher J. Fries (2014). “Older Adults’ Use of Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies to Resist Biomedicalization of Aging”, Journal of Aging Studies. 28:1-10.

10. Christopher J. Fries (2016). "Book Review: Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer", Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine.

11. Robert D. McLeod, Marcia R. Friesen, Jason D. Edgerton, and Christopher J. Fries (2017).  "Mobile Apps for Mental Health: Overview and a Social Gaming Framework", International Journal of Engineering Research and Development. 13(2): 18-30.

12. Christopher J. Fries (2019). "Healing Health Care: From Sick Care towards Salutogenic Healing Systems", Social Theory & Health, 18(1), 16-32

13. Christopher J. Fries (2020). "The Medicalization of Cancer as Socially Constructed and Culturally Negotiated", Health Promotion International. 35(6), 1543-1550.

Book Chapters

1. Brenda L. Lovell, Jamileh Daneshnia, and Christopher J. Fries, (2012). “Alternative and Complementary Medicine”, In S. Loue and M. Sajatovic (eds.). Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health. 31-47. Springer.

2. Christopher J. Fries (2012). “Ethnicity and the Use of “Accepted” and “Rejected” Complementary / Alternative Medical Therapies in Canada: Evidence from the Canadian Community Health Survey”, In J. J. Kronenfeld (ed.). Research in the Sociology of Health Care. (30): 113-131. Emerald.

Public Sociology

1. “Sinclair Victim of ‘Medicalization’”, Opinion Editorial, Winnipeg Free Press, May 22, 2010 A19.

2. “Health Care? Sickness Care is More Like It: Here’s Why More Spending Doesn’t Equate with Longer Life”, Opinion Editorial, Winnipeg Free Press, June 19, 2010 H12.

3. “Name, Blame and Shame: ‘Systems Thinking’ a Threat to Patient Safety”, Opinion Editorial, Winnipeg Free Press, July 17, 2010 H11.

4. “Brian Sinclair Was ‘Ignored to Death’”, Opinion Editorial, The Huffington Post, September 23, 2011.

5. "Easing of US Trade Embargo, the Cuban Paradox, and Lessons in Health Care: A Natural Experiment", Opinion Editorial, published on the Social Theory & Health Blog, September, 13, 2016.    

6. "Rise of the health truthers: Medical skeptics and conspiracists in search of certainty in a confusing world", print interview on medical skepticism with Joseph Bream, the National Post, February 6, 2015.

7. "Shifting the Stigma: Changing discussion around mental health and mental illness", print interview on medicalization with Danelle Granger, the Uniter, January 25, 2018.

8. Television interview on the closing of the Norwood Pool and public health infrastructure, CTV Winnipeg News, February 6, 2019

9. "Manitobans Pick up the Pace on Embracing COVID-19 Directives: Poll", print interview on social distancing with Danielle Da Silva, The Winnipeg Free Press, March 26, 2020.

10. "Pandemic a stress on relationships: poll Disruption causing social strain, particularly among younger men", print interview on pandemic stressors with Julia-Simone Rutgers, The Winnipeg Free Press,  December 28, 2020.

Grants and Awards:

1.  2011 University Reseach Grants Program (URGP), University of Manitoba, $6.850. Project Title: Use of Alternative Therapies as a Form of Self Care Health Behaviour among Ethno-cultural Minority Older Adults.

2.  2011 Centre on Aging Research Fellowship 2011-2012, Centre on Aging, University of Manitoba, $10,000.

3.   2012 Faculty Acess Award, Student Affairs, University of Manitoba.

4.    "Developing Mobile Gaming/Gambling Instrumentation and Technology Towards Gambling Risk Reduction", Bob McLeod, Marcia R. Friesen, Ian Jeffrey, Marek Laskowski, Jason Edgerton, and Christopher J. Fries.  Manitoba Gambling Research Small Grant Program, Manitoba Gambling Research Foundation, $38,310.

5.  "Sense of Coherence as a Psychosocial Determinant of Settlement Experiences and Health and Wellbeing Outcomes of Refugee Newcomers", Christopher J. Fries (PI), Nelson Oranye, and John Serieux. University of Manitoba Collaborative Research Program, $24,704.


Granting Agency Peer Reviewer:

Manitoba Worker's Compensation Board

Michale Smith Foundation for Health Research


Research Manitoba

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Counsel

Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation


Last updated: January, 2021

For more information contact:
Christopher J. Fries
Department of Sociology
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada  R3T 2N2
Tel. (204) 474-7871
fax  (204) 261-1216