Professor Celia Kitzinger



  • PhD (Reading)
  • MA (Oxon)

I began my career in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford , and – frustrated with the narrow vision of humanity promoted by experimentalists -  moved to Reading University in order to research sexuality from a social psychological perspective.  I then worked for a couple of years each in Education (University of Leicester), Psychology (University of East London) and Nursing (University of Surrey), eventually settling for ten years in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University where I was heavily influenced by colleagues such as Jonathan Potter and Derek Edwards, who sparked my enthusiasm for discursive methods of analysis and for understanding cognition as a product of social interaction. 

After a year-long visiting appointment at the University of California at Los Angles I returned to the UK to York where I have worked for more than 10 years.  I have also held visiting appointments at the universities of British Columbia (Canada) and Auckland (New Zealand).  I also regularly lecture, teach graduate and researcher training workshops  and short courses and summer schools in the UK and internationally.

I am the Co-Director of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers exploring the cultural, ethical, legal, social and historical dimensions of the vegetative and the minimally conscious states. For more information see our webpage here:




I currently have three main areas of research.

Ethics and medical technologies:  Brain injury


My most recent research explores family decision-making about patients with traumatic brain injuries.  This is part of a larger project (a book co-authored with Jenny Kitzinger, Cardiff University ) on Coma, Consciousness and Culture: Medical Decision-Making in the 21st Century.  We will explore media representations of coma, brain injury and brain imaging; the development of diagnostic categories of disordered consciousness (‘vegetative’, ‘minimally conscious’) and their relation to medical technology and evolving case law; the management of risk, hope and uncertainty for brain injured patients; notions of personhood and identity;  and communication with people with disordered consciousness.

Sexuality and Gender

From my doctoral research on I have had a long-standing interest in sexuality and gender and I campaigned for, and was Inaugural Chair of, the British Psychological Society Sexuality section (as it is now called).  With the support of Liberty (the national civil liberties association), my wife/civil partner, Sue Wilkinson, and I brought a High Court test case in 2005 seeking a statutory declaration of the validity of our Canadian marriage in the UK (see  Some of my publications address issues arising from the continued UK ban on same-sex marriage and other large-scale, structural and political macro-level concerns.  Others relate sexuality and gender to talk-in-interaction, showing how heteronormativity and gendered reality is produced through daily micro-interactions.  My current work focuses on gendered categories in talk.

Conversation Analysis


Since 2000 (post-UCLA) I have  published widely in conversation analysis, roughly equally divided between studies that use CA to understand issues relating to sexuality and gender, and studies designed to contribute to understanding the basic structures of interaction (e.g. how people ‘do surprise’, how self-referring is done, how people deal with trouble in speaking, hearing and understanding).  I am currently collaborating with Professor Gene Lerner (UCSB) on a number of different projects, including a large-scale international study of referring to time and place.


I am the founding Director of the York Chronic Disorders of Consciousness Group


Selected publications

  • Kitzinger, C. & Kitzinger, J. (2014). Withdrawing nutrition and hydration from minimally conscious and vegetative patients, Journal of Medical Ethics
  • Kitzinger, C and Kitzinger, J (2013) Evidence Submitted To: HOUSE OF LORDS SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE MENTAL CAPACITY ACT 2005
  • Halliday, S, Kitzinger, C. & Kitzinger, J. (2014), ‘Law in everyday life and death: A socio-legal study of chronic disorders of consciousness’, Legal Studies. DOI: 10.1111/lest.12042
  • Kitzinger, C & Kitzinger, J. (2013). Withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration from minimally conscious and vegetative patients, Journal of Medical Ethics
  • Samuel, G. & Kitzinger, J. (2013).  Reporting consciousness in coma: Media framing of neuro-scientific research, hope, and the response of families with relatives in vegetative and minimally conscious states, JOMEC Journal: Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies
  • Kitzinger, Jenny and Kitzinger, Celia. (2013). The 'window of opportunity' for death after severe brain injury: Family experiences. Sociology of Health and Illness 35(7): 1095-1112.  Open Access here: doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12020. The 'window of opportunity' for death after severe brain injury...
  • Latchem, J and Kitzinger, J (2012) 'What is important to residents with neurological conditions and their relatives in rehabilitation and long-term care centres?', Research Report, Cardiff University
  • Turner-Stokes, L., Kitzinger, J., Gill-Thwaites, H., Playford, E.D., Wade, D., Allanson, J., Pickard, J. (2012). fMRI for vegetative and minimally conscious states, British Medical Journal 2012;345:e8045 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8045
  • Ostermann, A.A. & Kitzinger, C. 2012. Feminist conversation analysis and applied conversation analysis, Calidoscopio 10(2): 239-244.
  • Shaw, R. & Kitzinger, C. (2012). Compliments on a home birth helpline, Research on Language and Social Interaction 45(3): 213-244.
  • Kitzinger, C. & Kitzinger, J. (2011).  "M", Polly, and the right to die.  Bioethics Forum
  • Kitzinger, C. & Kitzinger J. (2010).  A voice for the voiceless?  High-tech speculation or basic respect?  The Psychologist 23(6): 450-451.
  • Kitzinger C. (2010). Researching sexuality and gender: Meet the researcher, pp. 386-387 in Gross, R. Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour.  6th edn. Hodder Educational.
  • Kitzinger, C. (2010). What about advance directives? British Medical Journal, 341, c.4307 doi:10.1136/bmj.c4307
  • An article for a qualitative researcher readership introducing the ideas of conversation analysis, with accessible illustrations and a reading list, written by Celia Kitzinger and Merran Toerien:
  • Kitzinger, Celia (2007). Is 'woman' always relevantly gendered? Gender and Language 1(1): 39:40
  • Kitzinger, C. and Kitzinger, S. (2007). Birth trauma: Talking with women and the value of conversation analysis, British Journal of Midwifery 15(5): 256-264.
  • Lerner, G. and Kitzinger, C. (2007). Extraction and Aggregation in the Repair of Individual and Collective Self-Reference, Discourse Studies 9(4) 427-432.
  • Wilkinson, Sue and Kitzinger, Celia (2006). Surprise as an interactional achievement: Reaction tokens in conversation. Social Psychology Quarterly, 69(2).
  • Kitzinger, Celia (2005) Heteronormativity in action: Reproducing the heterosexual nuclear family in 'after hours' medical calls, Social Problems, 52(4). Special Section:Language Interaction and Social Problems, 477-498.
  • Kitzinger, Celia. (2005) Speaking as a heterosexual: (How) does sexuality matter for talk-in-interaction, Research on Language and Social Interaction 38(3): 221-265.
  • Land, Victoria and Kitzinger, Celia (2005) Speaking as a Lesbian: Correcting the Heterosexist Presumption, Research on Language and Social Interaction. 38(4):371-416.
  • Shaw, Rebecca and Kitzinger, Celia (2005) 'Calls to a home birth helpline: Empowerment in childbirth', Social Science and Medicine, 61:2374-2383.
  • Kitzinger, Celia (2004) The myth of the two biological sexes. The Psychologist. 17(8): 451-454.
  • Kitzinger, Celia and Wilkinson, Sue (2004) Social advocacy for equal marriage: The politics of 'rights' and the psychology of 'mental health'. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 4(1): 173-194.
  • Kitzinger, Celia (2000) Doing feminist conversation analysis, Feminism & Psychology, 10: 163-193.

Contact details

Prof. Celia Kitzinger
Department of Sociology
University of York
Wentworth College
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322635