Watchful Waiting

We’re investigating modes of waiting that entail reflexive understandings of time passing as potentially ‘curative’, or productive of development and change.

This is being done under two related work strands.

1. ‘Watchful Waiting as a practice of Care’ develops resources for understanding the value and significance of waiting in healthcare by reconceptualising it as a social practice beyond the clinical encounter.

We will unpack the heteronormative, gendered, and raced assumptions embedded in the figure who watchfully waits for psychological, social or political change, using a series of contemporary case studies drawn from literature, social art practice, and activist politics to show up the relations between power, care and time.

We will consider how care as a form of waiting becomes classed, feminised and racialised – made visible when extended to lives characterised as ‘non-productive’.

We particularly want to situate the ‘watchful waiting’ employed within healthcare within broader social and cultural practices of relational endurance.

2. ‘Watchful Waiting in General Practice’ investigates the temporalities of care within general practice.

We will be working alongside staff at Well Street Medical Practice, Hackney, London, and Wyndham House Surgery, Silverton, Devon, to find out how GPs use and understand ‘watchful waiting’ in their daily practice. We are interested in how GPs deal with the dilemmas of offering safe and timely care within a context in which they are often the only service within the broader social care system in which the door is permanently open.

Historical and interview-based data emerging from Dr. Raluca Soreanu’s Wellcome-funded study of Balint Groups, based in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, will also inform the study.

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