Researcher biography

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. 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

  • Cancer and end-of-life care
    In my research, I examine carers of cancer patients' lived experiences, support needs and reflections on care coordination. Drawing on longitudinal qualitative data, this research offers fresh interactionist theorisation of cancer and end-of-life caregiving.
  • Emotions
    In my research, I apply and extend Hochschild's concept of 'emotion work,' using Collins' 'emotional energy,' Bourdieu's 'reflexivity' and Massumi's 'affect.' I have a particular interest in advancing methodology within the sociology of emotions to more fully appreciate the layered, technical and everyday significance of emotions in social life.
  • Interprofessional education (IPE)
    As a researcher of interprofessional education and practice, I apply a range of sociological theories to highlight the significance of context, hidden curricula and (inter)disciplinary knowledge to professional socialisation.