About Us

 We are a multi-disciplinary group of researchers exploring the cultural, ethical, legal, social and historical dimensions of coma and disorders of consciousness – the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state.
Below, the co-directors of CDoC,  Professor Jenny Kitzinger and Professor Celia Kitzinger, discuss their work on medical decision-making that led to the founding of the centre in 2011.

The network of staff involved in the centre now pursue a wide range of questions including:

  • How do developments in the science of the brain influence understandings of (un)consciousness? How are they implicated in debates about  ‘autonomy’ and ‘personhood’ and decisions about treatment?
  • How is the ‘minimally conscious’ diagnosis constructed, deployed and contested?
  • How are disorders of consciousness represented in contemporary fiction, newspapers, soap opera and film?
  • How does debate about the vegetative state help us to understand the ordinary concept of death?
  • How is legality constructed through everyday social practice in relation to  vegetative or minimally conscious states?
  • How does the social history of health care influence the treatment of these patients?
  • How can care and support  be improved and what are the ethical and economic debates around this issue?
  • How can cultural engagements and explorations around these issues enrich public debate?

We have an extensive research archive on family experience and are planning to extend our research into new sites (e.g ethnographies in care homes and the science lab) and are now developing cross-national collaborations.

You can learn a bit about our impact here:


Watch the short film below for an introduction to just some of our current work.

Listen to our Radio 3 programme here