Race and racism; social categories and identities; ethnomethodology and conversation analysis; interactions in conversational and institutional settings; conflicts and violence in interactions
Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara
My primary research interests for the past 15+ years have been at the intersection of social interaction and race/racism. Specifically, I have worked to develop a research agenda and approach that applies an ethnomethodological, conversation analytic approach to the study of race and the other social categories and forms of social organization with which it intersects. The focus of this research is the fine-grained examination of some ways in which the social organization of race is produced and reproduced through the locally organized, everyday practices of people in interaction with one another.
More recently, I have been working in collaboration with multi-disciplinary and multi-methodological groups of colleagues located at a number of institutions in the United States, Canada, and South Africa on research focused on advancing research and theory on conflicts and violence in both everyday interactional settings and in police encounters. My primary role in these projects involves using ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approaches to examine how violence comes to be produced during the course of interactions captured on video – either by onlookers (e.g., cell phone videos), or as a result of institutionally mandated recording (e.g., police dashboard cameras). In particular, I have focused on examining how membership categories (including race, gender, and others) are made relevant and managed in these interactions, and how violence emerges from the moment-by-moment sequential unfolding of the interactions.
In addition to these areas of “applied” conversation analytic research, my research has also contributed to more “basic” understandings of social interaction and social categories more generally, and my collaborations with colleagues and students have focused on a range of topics that intersect with various features of social interaction in ordinary conversational, research, and text-based (e.g., online) settings.
Whitehead, K. A., & Lerner, G. H. (in press). When simple self-reference is too simple:
Managing the categorical relevance of speaker self-presentation. Language in Society.
Whitehead, K. A. (in press). On Sacks and the analysis of racial categories-in-action. In
Smith, R. Fitzgerald, R., & Housley, W. (Eds.), On Sacks: Methodology, Materials and
Inspirations. London, U.K.: Routledge.
Whitehead, K. A. (2020). The problem of context in the analysis of social action: The case of
implicit whiteness in post-apartheid South Africa. Social Psychology Quarterly, 83(3), 294-313.
Whitehead, K. A., & Lerner, G. H. (2020). Referring to somebody: Generic person reference as
an interactional resource. Journal of Pragmatics, 161, 46-56.
Whitehead, K. A. (2019). Using ethnomethodology and conversation analysis to study social
categories: The case of racial categories in South African radio talk. In A. Fynn, S. Laher, & S. Kramer (Eds.), Transforming Research Methods in the Social Sciences: Case Studies from South Africa (pp. 251-264). Johannesburg, South Africa: Wits University Press.
Whitehead, K. A. (2018). Discursive approaches to race and racism. In H. Giles, & J. Harwood
(Eds.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Intergroup Communication (pp. 324-339). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Bowman, B., Whitehead, K. A., & Raymond G. (2018). Situational factors and mechanisms in pathways to violence. Psychology of Violence, 8(3), 287-292.
Whitehead, K. A., Bowman, B., & Raymond, G. (2018). “Risk factors” in action: The situated constitution of “risk” in violent interactions. Psychology of Violence, 8(3), 329-338.
Whitehead, K. A. (2018). Managing the moral accountability of stereotyping. Journal of
Language and Social Psychology, 37(3), 288-309.
Whitehead, K. A. & Baldry, K. (2018). Omni-relevant and contingent membership categories in research interview and focus group openings. Qualitative Research, 18(2), 135-152.
Kaufman, S., & Whitehead, K. A. (2018). Producing, ratifying and resisting support in an
online support forum. Health, 22(3), 223-239.
Dominguez-Whitehead, Y., Whitehead, K. A., & Bowman, B. (2017). Confessing sex in online student communities. Discourse, Context & Media, 20(2), 20-32.
Whitehead, K. A. (2018). Discursive approaches to race and racism. In H. Giles, & J. Harwood (Eds.) The Oxford Encyclopedia of Intergroup Communication (pp. 324-339). New York: Oxford University Press.
Whitehead, K. A. (2015). Everyday antiracism in action: Preference organization in responses to racism. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 34(4), 374-389.
Whitehead, K. A., & Stokoe, E. (2015). Producing and responding to –isms in interaction.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 34(4), 368-373.
Durrheim, K., Greener, R., & Whitehead, K. A. (2015). Race trouble: Attending to race and racism in online interaction. British Journal of Social Psychology, 54(1), 84-99.
Whitehead, K. A. (2015). Extreme case formulations. In Tracy, K., Ilie, C., & Sandel, T. (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction (pp. 579-584). New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell.
Cresswell, C., Whitehead, K. A., & Durrheim, K. (2014). The anatomy of “race trouble” in online interactions. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(14), 2512-2528.
Dominguez-Whitehead, Y., & Whitehead, K. A. (2014). Food talk: A window into inequality among university students. Text & Talk, 34(1), 49-68.
Whitehead, K. A. (2013). Managing self/other relations in complaint sequences: The use of self-deprecating and affiliative racial categorizations. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 46(2), 186-203.
Whitehead, K. A. (2013). Race-class intersections as interactional resources in post-apartheid South Africa. In C. M. Pascale (Ed.), Social Inequality and the Politics of Representation: A Global Landscape (pp. 49-63). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. DOI: 10.13140/2.1.4872.5443.Whitehead, K. A. (2012). Moving forward by doing analysis. Discourse Studies, 14(3), 337-343.
Whitehead, K. A. (2012). Racial categories as resources and constraints in everyday interactions: Implications for racialism and non-racialism in post-apartheid South Africa. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 35(7), 1248-1265.
Whitehead, K. A. & Bowman, B. (2012). The professional consequences of political silence. Journal of Social Philosophy, 43(4), 426-435.
Whitehead, K. A. (2011). Some uses of head nods in “third position” in talk-in-interaction. Gesture, 11(2), 103-122.
Whitehead, K. A. (2011). An ethnomethodological, conversation analytic approach to investigating race in South Africa. South African Review of Sociology, 42(3), 1-22.
Whitehead, K. A. (2009). “Categorizing the categorizer”: The management of racial common sense in interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 72(4), 325-342.
Whitehead, K. A., & Lerner, G. H. (2009). When are persons “white”? On some practical asymmetries of racial reference in talk-in-interaction. Discourse & Society, 20(5), 613-641.
My main teaching areas are on courses relating to language, interaction, and social organization, including:
· SOC 136A/236: The Analysis of Conversational Interaction
· SOC 136C/236C: Social Categories in Interaction
· SOC 185E: Introduction to Ethnomethodology
. SOC 274: Pro-seminar on Language, Interaction and Social Organization