Biography

I am a Social Psychologist who joined Keele University in 2021 as a Teaching Fellow. Prior to that, I was a Research Fellow on a Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council at Loughborough University. My higher education was also at Loughborough, where I completed a BSc Social Psychology, MSc Discursive Psychology, and PhD in Discursive Psychology/Conversation Analysis. More broadly, I have a vision for psychology which considers people as essentially rational actors, who incorporate a variety of psychological and interactional strategies for making sense of their worlds.  

In my research, I have a keen interest in exploring social problems in our communities. Through the qualitative approach of discursive psychology, underpinned by conversation analytic methods, I examine everyday interactions between people who are in crisis (e.g., through homelessness, or neighbour disputes) and organisations that have a remit to help. I have designed and managed several research projects – as an MSc student (health interaction), a PhD student (neighbour disputes), then as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow (housing problems and homelessness). This research coupled with other postdoctoral positions has allowed me to develop and extend my social scientific knowledge regarding how people formulate their concerns and how organisations manage those concerns through their institutional remits.

Research and scholarship

In my recent Economic and Social Research Council one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at Loughborough University, I developed my research expertise (e.g., international collaboration, funding applications, building partnerships with external organisations). I am working with two data corpora:

  • Housing charity (170 recordings of telephone calls to their UK helpline).
  • Mediation, environmental health, antisocial behaviour services (350 recordings of telephone calls to UK council authorities and charitable helplines). 

Housing Crisis Project

I am focusing on people in housing crisis in the UK (through actual or anticipated homelessness). Specifically, I am examining assistance offered by organisations that are there to help. My collaborators are a UK housing charity, who have granted me access to recordings of calls to their helpline. I am examining these calls, identifying problems that occur between callers and call-takers (e.g., complaints, distress, disagreements). My aim is to understand how these concerns are articulated and dealt with in the moment-by-moment unfolding of the call. I am collaborating with international scholars in disseminating this work through co-authored publications in high quality peer-reviewed journals. My present analytic focus is when callers to the helpline talk about their mental health concerns (e.g., depression, anxiety). I examine how call takers manage these concerns (e.g., displaying empathy whilst simultaneously obtaining relevant details to warrant assistance being offered to callers) within the institutional boundaries of the call.

Neighbourhood Disputes Project

I investigate the formulation and management of neighbourhood problems in the community, which is an extension of my PhD research (Alexander, 2018). In a unique and innovative comparative study, I examine recordings of calls to three different organisations (mediation, environmental health, and antisocial behaviour); each of which has a remit to assist with neighbourhood problems (e.g., noise, rubbish). My research has resulted in:

  • new understandings about how community cohesion can break down, and also about ways in which neighbour relationships might be improved by services that are there to provide help (Alexander & Hofstetter, 2020; Alexander & Stokoe, 2019, 2020).
  • a Discursive Psychology Special Issue in the Journal Qualitative Research in Psychology) in which I co-edited and contributed (Alexander & Stokoe, 2020; Humă et al., 2020)
  • I am currently collaborating on preparation of a forthcoming article related to this project  – how callers to services account for having called the organisation (Humă & Alexander, in preparation).

More broadly, in my work, I reveal and articulate how people go about their day-to-day lives, interacting with others, in ways which tend to be overlooked. My research demonstrates the everyday challenges people face, which in turn, can inform social policy regarding how best to support those facing social concerns. For instance, my MSc research led to an article with direct implications for diagnostically differentiating patients with functional memory disorders from those that have dementia (Alexander et al., 2019). This research forms part of a project which informs changes to health policy and guidance within the UK National Health Service; in so doing, refining the delivery of NHS services whilst improving the diagnostic process for patients.

I am also committed to and experienced in applying research findings. I am collaborating with organisations – engaging in evidence-based advice and training on communicative techniques, and ‘skilling up’ service providers’ analytic capacity to pass on knowledge about effective practice. The overall aim being to enhance the support provided to people who need help.

Teaching

Year 1:

  • PSY10031 Introduction to Statistics for Psychology
  • PSY10034 Introduction to Biological and Cognitive Psychology
  • PSY-10033 Introduction to Social and Developmental Psychology
  • PSY-10036 Introduction to Research Design for Psychology

Year 2:

  • PSY-20043 Qualitative & Survey Research Design

Year 3:

  • PSY30067 Individual Differences and Conceptual Issues
  • PSY-30134 Making a difference with Psychology
  • PSY30061 Final Year Project 

MSc:

  • PSY40036 Qualitative Research Methods 

Journal Articles

  1. Alexander, M., & Hofstetter, E. (2020). Somewhere to turn to: Signposting in service provisionDiscourse & Communication00(0), 1-20. 
  2. Alexander, M., & Stokoe, E. (2020). Characterological formulations of persons in neighbourhood complaint sequencesQualitative Research in Psychology, 17(3), 413-429.
  3. Huma, B., Alexander, M., Stokoe, E., & Tileaga, C. (2020). Introduction to Special Issue on Discursive PsychologyQualitative Research in Psychology17(3), 313-335.
  4. Alexander, M., & Stokoe, E. (2019). Problems in the neighbourhood: Formulating noise complaints across dispute resolution servicesJournal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 29(5), 355-370.
  5. Alexander, M., Blackburn, D., & Reuber, M. (2019). Patients’ accounts of memory lapses in interactions between neurologists and patients with functional memory disordersSociology of Health & Illness, 41(2), 249-265.
  6. Albert, S., Albury, C., Alexander, M., Harris, T., Hofstetter, E., Holmes, E., & Stokoe, E. (2018). The conversational rollercoaster: Conversation analysis and the public science of talkDiscourse Studies, 20(3), 397-424.

Dissertations

  1. Alexander, M. (2018). Formulating and managing neighbourhood complaints: A comparative study of service provision. Loughborough University: Loughborough, UK