Conversation Analysis

13. Author Biography

John Heritage, PhD’s research focuses on the sphere of social organization that Erving Goffman calls the "interaction order." This involves looking at social interaction from the point of view of how it is constructed; the social, cultural and psychological factors that impact its implementation; and its impact on social outcomes, including the distribution of goods and services and the (re-)production of social structure.

Currently his work is concentrated on three broad areas. First there is the interaction order itself, which he approaches as a conversation analyst. Here his recent work has focused on ways in which persons claim (and defer to) authority in interaction, and the identities that are invoked and validated in this way.

Dr. Heritage also does research on interaction in political arenas: this work includes the analysis of political speeches and audience reactions to them, a number of works on the news interview as a genre of political communication and, most recently, a historical study of presidential news conferences over the past 50 years.

The third, and largest, part of his current research program focuses on interaction in medicine. Dr. Heritage has published a number of papers on interactions between new mothers and community health nurses, on decision-making in health care contexts including surgery and antibiotics prescribing, and on social interaction in general primary care. His current projects include research on interventions to improve cancer screening rates, communication within primary care teams, and experimental interventions to test specific changes in the ways physicians communicate with patients. Dr. Heritage is also closely involved in studies of antibiotics prescribing, and methods of intervening to alleviate chronic pediatric pain.