Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


Marc Alexander BSc Social Psychology, MSc Discursive Psychology

Photo of  Marc Alexander

Research Student

Whilst an undergraduate at Loughborough University I achieved a degree in Social Psychology (BSc, First Class Honours). From this background I developed a keen interest in the study of human interaction through the approach of discursive psychology (DP) closely informed by the methodology of conversation analysis (CA). This led me to undertake a Master's degree course in Discursive Psychology (MSc) at Loughborough, from which I attained a Distinction.

My PhD explores neighbourhood disputes through a substantial corpus of telephone calls to environmental health, anti-social behaviour and mediation services in the UK. By utilizing the approach of discursive psychology (DP) embedded within the analytic framework of conversation analysis (CA), I aim to develop an understanding of the ways in which complainants report neighbourhood problems such as noise, rubbish, smells, verbal abuse and access to property. I explore how these types of calls are responded to by different agencies, the interactional relationship between caller and call taker, and the institutional implications.

CA starts from the point that language is the medium of social action, and as such, conversation analysts focus on talk itself as the territory of observation in a naturally ‘live’ sense. Essentially, the emphasis is not on making inferences from talk, but to observe and report upon what is relevant for talk’s participants. DP is concerned with the ways in which psychological categories, descriptions, ascriptions and displays take place between co-participants, and treats these interactional phenomena as domains of observation and empirical analysis in themselves.

By utilising CA and DP, I hope my research will supplement and develop further understanding of how complaints are constructed and managed in neighbourhood disputes, but also enrich the existing database of trainable materials for staff. Are noise complaints about a neighbour formulated differently in calls to the environmental health agencies compared to mediation services? How are complaints managed by these different agencies? What are the interactional, institutional and moral consequences for these calls?