I currently have three main areas of research.
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.
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 http://www.equalmarriagerights.org/). 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.
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