Carl R. May

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Carl May FAcSS (born 1961, in Farnham, Surrey) is a British sociologist. He researches in the fields of medical sociology and science and technology studies (STS). Formerly based at Newcastle University, he is now Professor of Healthcare Innovation at the University of Southampton. Carl May was elected an Academician of the Academy of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences in 2006. He was appointed an NIHR Senior Investigator in 2010. His work falls into two distinct themes.

In medical sociology he has researched and published mainly on professional-patient interaction and relationships in clinical settings. This work has its roots in social constructionism and the social theory of Michel Foucault.[1] Over the past decade his work has become more focused on the ways that interaction processes are embedded in, and represent, their socio-technical contexts.[2] This led to studies of the interaction between health technologies and their users. These studies have explored the sociology of telemedicine[3][4]

In Science and Technology Studies his work investigates how innovations become routinely embedded in health care and other organizational systems. This research has led to Normalization Process Theory, developed with Tracey Finch and others, including Victor Montori [3]. This is a sociological theory of the implementation, embedding, and integration of new technologies and organizational innovations.[5][6][7] It is founded on, and has superseded, an earlier Normalization Process Model[8][9] for evaluating randomized controlled trials, health technologies, and complex interventions in health care. Most recently,May and colleagues have applied Normalization Process Theory to explaining patient non-compliance with treatment, proposing that a proportion of non-compliance is structurally induced by healthcare systems themselves as patients are overburdened by treatment. To counter this, they have proposed Minimally Disruptive Medicine,[10] which seeks to take account of its effects on patients' workload.


  1. ^ May, C. 1992. "Individual care? Power and subjectivity in therapeutic relationships." Sociology 26:589-602.May, C. 1992. "Nursing Work, Nurses' Knowledge, and the Subjectification of the Patient." Sociology of Health and Illness 14:472-487
  2. ^ , May, Carl (2007) "The clinical encounter and the problem of context." Sociology 41:29-45.
  3. ^ May, C. (2006) "Mobilizing modern facts: Health Technology Assessment and the politics of evidence." Sociology of Health & Illness 28:513-532.
  4. ^ May, C, T Rapley, T Moreira, T Finch, and B Heaven. (2006) "Technogovernance: Evidence, subjectivity, and the clinical encounter in primary care medicine." Social Science & Medicine 62:1022-1030.
  5. ^ May, C., Finch, T., 2009. Implementation, embedding, and integration: an outline of Normalization Process Theory. Sociology. In Press.
  6. ^ May, C., Innovation and Implementation in Health Technology: Normalizing Telemedicine. In: J. Gabe, M. Calnan, Eds.), The New Sociology of the Health Service. Routledge, London, 2009.
  7. ^ May, C., Mundane Medicine, Therapeutic Relationships, and the Clinical Encounter.' In (eds.) In: B. Pescosolido, et al., Eds.), Handbook of the Sociology of Health, Illness, and Healing: A Blueprint for the 21st Century. Springer, New York, 2009.
  8. ^ May, Carl (2006). "A rational model for assessing and evaluating complex interventions in health care." BMC Health Services Research 6:1-11.[1]
  9. ^ May, C et al. (2007). "Understanding the implementation of complex interventions in health care: the normalization process model." BMC Health Services Research 7 [2]
  10. ^ May C, Montori VM, Mair FS. We need minimally disruptive medicine. BMJ 2009;339:b2803

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