Dr Rebecca Olson

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Science
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
r.olson@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 53493

Overview

Dr Rebecca E. Olson is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. Dr Olson's research focuses on the sociology of health and illness, cancer and end-of-life care, interprofessional education and practice in healthcare, and the sociology of emotion and affect. She is currently Co-Director of UQ's SocioHealthLab. From 2013-2016 she was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Sociology and Co-Convenor of the Australian Sociological Association's Sociology of Emotions and Affect thematic group. She has published widely in the areas of healthcare, interprofessional education, cancer and informal care, and has a particular interest in advancing innovative, video-based methods to study emotions in social life. Her sole-authored book, “Towards a Sociology of Cancer Caregiving: Time to Feel” (Ashgate 2015), was supported by a collaborative grant from Cancer Australia and Cancer Council ACT. Her most recent book, "Emotions in Late Modernity" (Routledge, 2019, edited by Patulny, Bellocchi, Olson, Khorana, McKenzie & Peterie) explores the thesis that the social experience of emotions are changing in a contemporary landscape characterised by rapid change and digitally-mediated communication.

Research Interests

  • Emotions & Methodology
    I apply and extend: theories from the sociology of emotions; and qualitative methodologies relevant to emotions in social life. During my post-doctoral work, I re-conceptualised informal carers of cancer patients’ emotional unrest as a form of temporal anomie requiring emotion management. In the keystone chapter of our edited book on Emotions in Late Modernity (published by Routledge, 2019), Patulny and I argue that emotions are distinct in late modernity; among other changes, they are digitally mediated and require more reflexivity. I have recently conceptualised the culturally and emotionally sensitive work performed by palliative care doctors as a form of emotionally reflexive labour. Spurred on by the different conceptualisations afforded through competing theoretical frameworks within the sociology of emotions, I transcend paradigmatic boundaries through innovative empirical methods. In a recent publication in Emotions and Society I propose a post-paradigmatic methodology for analysing emotions in social life that is multi-faceted, and breaks free from the epistemological constraints that hamper methodological innovation within the subdiscipline. Specifically, taking a post-paradigmatic approach encourages researchers to see paradigms and their associated methods as existing within neighbouring camps that should be combined within studies on emotions to enable analysis of the multiple, contradictory and layered meanings of emotions that are always in play. Currently, I am employing post-qualitative methods of inquiry, such as video-reflexive ethnography, across a number of research projects with allied health collaborators.
  • Healthcare & Education
    Innovative methods and emotions theorising are useful to a range of topics, but especially to generating solutions within emotion laden healthcare contexts. In palliative care settings, for instance, I have led studies into: volunteer and carer support services; the acceptability of medicinal cannabinoids at the end of life; and terminology in end-of-life care provision. An ongoing theme within my work, since 2011, has been studying and theorising a revised model of healthcare poised to address fragmentation in healthcare, interprofessional practice (IPP), and the training that supports this revised model, interprofessional education (IPE). My research in this area explores the intersubjective and emotional aspects of interprofessional teamwork using innovative video-based methods. Preliminary findings suggest the importance of emotions to fostering open communication and transcending hierarchies in healthcare.

Research Impacts

My key contributions have been sociological approaches to conceptualising health & illness, healthcare practice and emotions.

My work in advancing a sociology of cancer caregiving has resulted in fresh theorisation of caregiving in cancer care settings and practical insight into carers’ support preferences. Concepts such as ‘temporal anomie’ and ‘indefinite loss’ offer schemas for understanding variations in carers’ experiences, grief and subsequent support needs. Findings from my research into cancer care have informed the revision of online support offered to carers through the cancer council ACT website.

My research into interprofessional education (IPE) advances theorisation of IPE and interprofessional practice (IPP) as two ends of a process of organisational change. Applying the sociologies of knowledge and identity to this subject has allowed me to highlight the significance of context, hidden curricula and (inter)disciplinary knowledge to professional socialisation. Findings from this research have been used to inform curriculum. My publication with co-author physiotherapist Prof. Andrea Bialowcerkowski (2014) in Medical Education earned the Silver Quill Award for the most downloaded article in 2014. Key findings from this paper have been taken up by the US National Academy of Science’s 2015 policy document on measuring the impact of interprofessional education.

My recent work tests the possibilities afforded through video-based research to transcend paradigmatic divisions that currently plague the sociology of emotions. Published in the top Sociology of Emotions Journal, Emotions and Society, my article 'A post-paradigmatic approach to analysing emotions in social life' demonstrates the benefits of working across paradigms rather than within them. Drawing on video-reflexive ethnography and multi-method approaches, we show how a post-paradigmatic approach exposes the layered meanings of emotions within a given context.

More broadly, my applied contributions to sociology and health(care) have been realised through roles as: Co-Director of UQ's SocioHealthLab; Associate Editor of the Journal of Sociology (2013-2016); Co-Convenor of the Sociology of Emotions and Affect Thematic Group within The Australian Sociological Association (2013-2016); a member of The Australian Sociological Association, the International Society for Research on Emotions and the Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators; a reviewer for numerous journals in sociology, health and interprofessional education; and as a member of the international advisory board for the peak sociology of emotions journal Emotions and Society.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Australian National University

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • Cannabis’s status is shifting from illicit counter-culture emblem to prescription drug. It has been decriminalised in several countries and holds promise as a medical intervention. But, does its past status affect its current use?

    This PhD draws on semi-structured interviews conducted with patients with advanced cancer who have either declined or accepted invitations to participate in an NHMRC-supported randomised controlled trial (RCT) into medicinal cannabis. While the qualitative sub-study to the RCT examines the acceptability of the intervention and recruitment challenges, the successful candidate will have the flexibility to develop a project that aligns with their sociology interests and the aims of the broader study.

    Based at the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland, the candidate will be supervised by Dr Rebecca E. Olson and Senior Palliative Care Consultants Professor Janet Hardy (UQ, Mater) and Associate Professor Phillip Good (Mater, St. Vincent’s).

    What does the Scholarship provide?

    • Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $27,094 (AUD) per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
    • Financial support (up to $15,000) will be available to the successful applicant for training, conference attendance, fieldwork, publishing and other research costs associated with the NHMRC-funded project, as approved by the School of Social Science and Dr Olson.

    International applicants are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Applicants from a range of backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Specifically, the project is suitable for candidates with an interest in theory and health, and a disciplinary foundation in Sociology, Social Science, Anthropology, Public Health and/or Criminology.

    The successful applicant should:

    • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following: (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, or (iii) a Research Masters degree;
    • ensure their 5-page research proposal is aligned with the NHMRC Project, Medicinal cannabinoids to relieve symptom burden in palliative care;
    • ensure their proposal is original, innovative and feasible;
    • have the ability to work as part of a broader research team;
    • have a commitment to the higher research degree culture of the School of Social Science, UQ;
    • be a full-time domestic candidate; and
    • be able to commence study in January 2021.

    Closing date extended! Applications now close 17 August 2020. For further information, please contact Dr Rebecca E. Olson: r.olson@uq.edu.au

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book

  • Roger Patulny, Alberto Bellocchi, Rebecca E. Olson, Sukhmani Khorana, Jordan McKenzie and Michelle Peterie eds. (2019). Emotions in late modernity. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781351133319

  • Olson, Rebecca E. (2015). Towards a sociology of cancer caregiving: time to feel. Surrey, United Kingdom: Ashgate.

Book Chapter

  • Patulny, Roger, Olson, Rebecca E., Khorana, Sukhmani, McKenzie, Jordan, Bellocchi, Alberto and Peterie, Michelle (2019). Conclusion: emotions in late modernity. Emotions in late modernity. (pp. 327-328) edited by Roger Patulny, Alberto Bellocchi, Rebecca E. Olson, Sukhmani Khorana, Jordan McKenzie and Michelle Peterie. Abingdon, Oxon & New York: Routledge.

  • Patulny, Roger and Olson, Rebecca E. (2019). Emotions in late modernity. Emotions in late modernity. (pp. 8-24) edited by Roger Patulny, Alberto Bellocchi, Rebecca E. Olson, Sukhmani Khorana, Jordan McKenzie and Michelle Peterie. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Patulny, Roger, Olson, Rebecca E., Khorana, Sukhmani, McKenzie, Jordan, Bellocchi, Alberto and Peterie, Michelle (2019). Introduction. Emotions in late modernity. (pp. 1-7) edited by Roger Patulny, Alberto Bellocchi, Rebecca E. Olson, Sukhmani Khorana, Jordan McKenzie and Michelle Peterie. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Olson, Rebecca E. and Dadich, Ann (2019). Power, (com)passion and trust in interprofessional healthcare. Emotions in late modernity. (pp. 267-281) edited by Roger Patulny, Alberto Bellocchi, Rebecca E. Olson, Sukhmani Khorana, Jordan McKenzie and Michelle Peterie. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Bellocchi, Alberto, Mills, Kathy, Olson, Rebecca, Patulny, Roger and Mckenzie, Jordan (2018). Emotion work at the frontline of STEM teaching. Critical issues and bold visions for science education. (pp. 247-264) edited by Lynn A. Bryan and Kenneth Tobin. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. doi: 10.1163/9789004389663_014

  • Olson, Rebecca E. (2016). Public health: Historical and contemporary principles and practices. Public Health: Local and Global Perspectives. (pp. 25-44) edited by Pranee Liamputtong. Port Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Cambridge University Press.

  • Olson, Rebecca E. and Abeysinghe, Sudeepa (2014). None of the above: Uncertainty and diagnosis. Social Issues in Diagnosis: An Introduction for Students and Clinicians. (pp. 47-60) edited by Annemarie Goldstein Jutel and Kevin Dew. Baltimore, MD United States: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Cannabis’s status is shifting from illicit counter-culture emblem to prescription drug. It has been decriminalised in several countries and holds promise as a medical intervention. But, does its past status affect its current use?

    This PhD draws on semi-structured interviews conducted with patients with advanced cancer who have either declined or accepted invitations to participate in an NHMRC-supported randomised controlled trial (RCT) into medicinal cannabis. While the qualitative sub-study to the RCT examines the acceptability of the intervention and recruitment challenges, the successful candidate will have the flexibility to develop a project that aligns with their sociology interests and the aims of the broader study.

    Based at the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland, the candidate will be supervised by Dr Rebecca E. Olson and Senior Palliative Care Consultants Professor Janet Hardy (UQ, Mater) and Associate Professor Phillip Good (Mater, St. Vincent’s).

    What does the Scholarship provide?

    • Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $27,094 (AUD) per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
    • Financial support (up to $15,000) will be available to the successful applicant for training, conference attendance, fieldwork, publishing and other research costs associated with the NHMRC-funded project, as approved by the School of Social Science and Dr Olson.

    International applicants are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Applicants from a range of backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Specifically, the project is suitable for candidates with an interest in theory and health, and a disciplinary foundation in Sociology, Social Science, Anthropology, Public Health and/or Criminology.

    The successful applicant should:

    • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following: (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, or (iii) a Research Masters degree;
    • ensure their 5-page research proposal is aligned with the NHMRC Project, Medicinal cannabinoids to relieve symptom burden in palliative care;
    • ensure their proposal is original, innovative and feasible;
    • have the ability to work as part of a broader research team;
    • have a commitment to the higher research degree culture of the School of Social Science, UQ;
    • be a full-time domestic candidate; and
    • be able to commence study in January 2021.

    Closing date extended! Applications now close 17 August 2020. For further information, please contact Dr Rebecca E. Olson: r.olson@uq.edu.au