School of Sociology and Social Policy
   
   
  
 

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Alison Pilnick

Professor of Language, Medicine and Society, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

I first came to the University of Nottingham as a pharmacy undergraduate in 1988, and after a spell working as a hospital pharmacist at the University Hospital, returned to the University to undertake postgraduate studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy. I have been a lecturer in Sociology since 1998.

My research interests lie primarily in the field of the sociology of health and illness, with a particular interest in advice-giving by health care professionals to their clients. I have worked with professionals including pharmacists, GPs, genetic counsellors, anaesthetists and midwives, using conversation analytic methods to examine interactions in these settings. This is linked to a broader interest in the use of qualitative methods in sociological research.

From 2000-2006 I was a co-editor of the journal Sociology of Health and Illness. Since 2006 I have been an advisory editor for the journal Social Science and Medicine. I served on the BSA Medical Sociology Group Committee from 1997-2001, and from 2012-2016 was a member of the American Sociological Association (Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis Section) Committee. In 2015 I was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

In July 2015 I became the Director of the Nottingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. Prior to that, from 2011-2015 I was Head of Training for the DTC, responsible for the day to day academic running and for managing our overall research training provision. In 2016 I became the Deputy Director of the ESRC Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership, a collaboration between 6 Midlands universities led by the University of Warwick.

Though I have taught across a range of areas, including social theory, philosophy of social science, and medical sociology, my current teaching is mostly research methods focused. This includes DTC modules on Qualitative Research Methods, and Analysing Verbal and Visual Interaction. I also teach Sociology of Health and Illness for the Masters of Public Health programme at Nottingham Medical School. I am a co-convenor of the MA in Healthcare Language and Communication, which is an e-learning Masters programme run jointly with the School of English Studies and the School of Nursing. In 2012 I was the recipient of a Lord Dearing Award for teaching excellence.

I have considerable experience of PhD supervision, having successfully supervised over 25 PhD students to date. A number of these projects were interdisciplinary, working with colleagues from the Medical School, School of Veterinary Science, School of Law and the Business School amongst others. Student topics have included goal setting in physiotherapist/patient interaction, the nature of collaborative work in operating theatres, decision-making by women at risk of hereditary breast cancer, risk communication in genetic counselling, advice giving in obesity clinics and the process of obtaining informed consent to surgery. I particularly welcome applications from PhD students interested in interaction in healthcare related fields.

orcid.org/0000-0003-0987-8760

Research Summary

My research interests lie primarily in the field of the sociology of health and illness, with a particular interest in advice-giving by health care professionals to their clients. I have worked with… read more

Recent Publications

  • HOLLIN, G., PILNICK, A. and (JOINT FIRST AUTHORSHIP), 2018. The categorisation of resistance: Interpreting failure to follow a proposed line of action in the diagnosis of autism amongst young adults. Sociology of Health and Illness. 40(7), 1215-1232
  • WEBB, J., PILNICK, A. and CLEGG, J., 2018. 'Imagined Constructed Thought: how staff interpret the behaviour of patients with intellectual disabilities Research on Language and Social Interaction. (In Press.)
  • DE KOK, B., WIDDICOMBE, S., PILNICK, A. and LAURIER, E., 2018. Doing patient-centredness versus achieving public health targets: A critical review of interactional dilemmas in ART adherence support. Social Science and Medicine. 205, 17-25
  • O'BRIEN, R, GOLDBERG, SE, PILNICK, A., BEEKE, S., SCHNEIDER, J., SARTAIN, K., THOMSON, L., MURRAY, M., BAXENDALE, B. and HARWOOD, RH., 2018. The VOICE study – A before and after study of a dementia communication skills training course PLOS ONE.

Current Research

My research interests lie primarily in the field of the sociology of health and illness, with a particular interest in advice-giving by health care professionals to their clients. I have worked with professionals including pharmacists, GPs, genetic counsellors, anaesthetists,midwives and veterinary surgeons, using conversation analytic methods to examine interactions in these settings and to address a wide range of both sociological and healthcare practice concerns. This is linked to a broader interest in the use of qualitative methods in sociological research.

Past Research

URLs for selected publications- for a full list of publications please click on the tab at the top of the page.

Pilnick, A., Clegg, J., Murphy, E. and Almack, K. (2010) Questioning the answer: questioning style, choice and self-determination in interactions with young people with intellectual disabilities, Sociology of Health and Illness, 32 (3): 415-36. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2009.01223.x/pdf

Pilnick, A. (2008) "It's something for you both to think about": choice and decision making in nuchal translucency screening for Down's syndrome, Sociology of Health and Illness, 30 (4): 511-30 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01071.x/pdf

Hindmarsh, J. and Pilnick, A. (2007) Knowing bodies at work: Embodiment and ephemeral teamwork in anaesthesia, Organization Studies, 28 (9): 1395-1416.Knowing bodies at work

Allen D and Pilnick, A (2005) Making conections: a case study in the social organization of healthcare. Sociology of Health and Illness, 27 (6): 683-700 Making connections: A case study in the social organisation of healthcare work

Pilnick, A. (2004) 'It's just one of the best tests that we've got at the moment': the presentation of screening for fetal abnormality in pregnancy, Discourse and Society, 15 (4): 451-465. 'It's just one of the best tests...'

Pilnick A (2002) "There are no rights and wrongs in these situations": identifying interactional difficulties in genetic counselling. Sociology of Health and Illness, 24 (1) 66-88. Identifying interactional difficulties in genetic counselling

Pilnick, A (1998) "Why didn't you just say that?": Dealing with issues of knowledge, competence and asymmetry in the pharmacist/client encounter, Sociology of Health and Illness, 20 (1) 29-51."Why didn't you just say that?": Dealing with issues of knowledge, competence and asymmetry in the pharmacist/client encounter

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