Nicola K Gale

Nicola K Gale

Health Services Management Centre. Director of Doctoral Research / Lecturer in Health Sociology.


Nicola grew up in London, UK, and then spent her University years at Warwick University. She developed an early interest in sociology and social policy in the health field. After completing her Masters, she secured an ESRC doctoral fellowship to complete her PhD at Warwick on the training of complementary and alternative medical practitioners. The thesis, entitled ‘Knowing the body and embodying knowledge’ contributed to the fields of embodied sociology, the sociology of knowledge and the sociology of health and healthcare.

She moved back to London, and worked at the University of Westminster, teaching Public Health and taking up a Research Fellow position in the iCAM Unit (integrating complementary and alternative medicine), where she worked on a number of projects related to clinical governance and safety in CAM practice. During this time, she also held a Visiting Lecturer position at Birkbeck, University of London, where she taught Health Policy. In 2009, she moved back to the Midlands, to take up a Research Fellow position at the School of Health and Population Sciences at the University of Birmingham, working for the NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLARHC) for Birmingham and the Black Country. She was the lead for the qualitative workstreams in four of the CLAHRC themes. At Birmingham, she set up CAMBRA - the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Birmingham Research Alliance, which has members from across the University, local NHS Trust and Third Sector organisations. In January 2013, she moved to the Health Services Management Centre, where she is a Lecturer in Health Sociology. She is the Director of Postgraduate Research for the School of Social Policy.


Research Interest

Theoretically, my work cuts across the sociology of health and illness, embodied sociology, the sociology of work and professions, and health policy and implementation.  My contribution in these fields has been to explicate the different kinds of ‘work’ involved in forms of healthcare and the implications of this for the wider health system and health policy.  I’ve drawn on and developed post-phenomenological scholarship that seeks to attach sense-making processes to power, embodiment and/or socio-cultural structures.  For example, my explorations of ‘body work’ (work that involves direct interaction with the bodies of others) have revealed issues about the knowledge base of practices (i.e. largely embodied knowledge) and their value in the system, the professional identity and aspiration of practitioners, as well as the power relationships and working conditions that result from this.  Currently, I’m working on a number of writing and empirical projects that explore the intersections of public health (management of epidemiological risk) and primary care (responsive care) mentalities in the fields of prevention and community wellbeing.  I am currently developing this through a collaboration with Dr Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam) and others to explore and research the concept of ‘risk work’.

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