Faculty Profiles

Kevin Whitehead
Associate Professor
University of California, Santa Barbara
Research Interests

My primary research interests for over the past 15 years have been at the intersection of social interaction and race/ethnicity. 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 a multi-disciplinary and multi-methodological group of colleagues at UCSB and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa on a project focused on advancing research and theory on conflicts and violence. My role in this research involves using ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approaches to examine ways in which conflicts, especially those with violent outcomes, unfold in naturally occurring video recorded interactions. 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 violent conflicts emerge from the moment-by-moment sequential unfolding of 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.

Selected Publications

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 anonline 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.

Teaching Areas

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
Course Listing

Contact Information

Social Studies and Media Science Building rm. 3411
office hours