Waiting times


  • Dr Laura Salisbury

    University of Exeter

  • Dr Lisa Baraitser

    Birkbeck, University of London

Project summary

This project will investigate waiting as a cultural and psychosocial concept, and an embodied and historical experience, to understand the temporalities of healthcare. It represents a fundamental rethinking of the relation between time and care through a critical analysis of waiting in the modern period. Working across medical humanities and psychosocial studies, we will uncover the history, cultural representation and psychosocial organisation of delayed and impeded time from 1860 to the present. 

This work will underpin focused investigations of ‘watchful waiting’ in current general practice, psychotherapy and end of life care. We will ask which models of time operate in healthcare practices and develop new models where waiting can operate as a form of careful attention. We will open up the meanings and difficulties of waiting and reframe debates about waiting for healthcare, moving beyond waiting times in the NHS, towards a more comprehensive understanding of the relation between waiting, care, and changing experiences of time.