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Adjunct Associate Professor


Phone: (919) 843-7393


(919) 962-1613


313B Alumni Building

Area of Interest:

Medical anthropology; the professions and public life; bureaucracies and “human services”; theories of social practice; political economy of knowledge; sociality, identity and human agency; US, Europe.


Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1992

Research & Activities:

Research background

Ethnographic and documentary study of managed behavioral health care in psychotherapeutic services, Northeastern US, 1996 (NIMH). Ethnographic, survey and documentary studies of violence among persons with severe mental disorders, NC, 1989-1996 (MacArthur Foundation). Ethnographic and discursive studies of professional practice in community mental health, NC, 1988-1993 (NIMH). Ethnographic research on the economic and social lives of persons with severe mental disorders, NC, 1986-1991 (NIMH). Historical study of British social anthropology in the 1930’s and 1940’s, 1982-1984.

Present research

My theoretical interests concern the understanding of social practice and personal life in a contemporary world composed by specialized forms of knowledge and activity and drawn within powerful institutional architectures. My current research focuses these interests on the interplay between human service professions and contemporary public life in two different settings. The first study examines the impact of large-scale, institutionalized change, “welfare reform,” on the lives of families that have members with disabilities. It is a component of Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-City Study, a research project that combines longitudinal social survey, developmental science studies, and ethnography to assess the effects of welfare reform on the lives of poor Americans in three representative cities. The second is an ethnographic study of families’ interpretations of human genetics and genetic disorders. The research examines not only families’ appropriation and reworking of knowledge gained in genetic counseling sessions, but also their use of other resources, media (specialized and popular) and associates to understand how genetic risk and genetic disorders may affect their lives. The project, Culture and Family Interpretations of Genetic Disorders, is supported by the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) research program of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Both studies are highly collaborative ventures that combine different persons, methods and perspectives in order to piece together knowledge of complex social worlds.

Selected Publications:

Lachicotte, W.S. 2002. Intimate Powers, Public Selves: Bakhtin’s Space of Authoring. In Jeannette Mageo, ed. Power and the Self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kirschner, S. and W.S. Lachicotte. 2001. Managing Managed Care: Habitus, Hysteresis and the End(s) of Psychotherapy. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 25: 441-456.

Ware, N., Lachicotte, W.S., Kirschner, S., Cortes, D. and Byron Good. 2000. Clinician Experiences of Managed Mental Health Care: A Re-reading of the Threat. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 14(1): 3-27.

Holland, D.C., Lachicotte, W.S., Skinner, D. and C. Cain. 1998. Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Estroff, S.E., Swanson, J.W., Lachicotte, W.S., Swartz, M. and M. Bolduc. 1998. Risk Reconsidered: Targets of Violence in the Social Networks of People with Serious Psychiatric Disorders. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 33 (Supplement 1): 95-101.

Estroff, S.E., Patrick, D.L., Zimmer, C., and W.S. Lachicotte. 1997. Pathways to Disability Income among Persons with Severe, Persistent Psychiatric Disorders. Milbank Quarterly 75 (4):1-38.

Estroff, S.E., Zimmer, C., Lachicotte, W.S., Benoit, J. and D.L. Patrick. 1997. “No Other Way to Go”: Pathways to Disability Income Application among Persons with Severe, Persistent Mental Illness. In Richard Bonnie and John Monahan, eds. Mental Disorder, Work Disability and the Law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp. 55-104.

Estroff, S.E., Zimmer, C., Lachicotte, W.S., and J. Benoit. 1994. The Influence of Social Networks and Social Support on Violence by Persons with Serious Mental Illness. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 45 (7): 21-34.

Estroff, S.E., Lachicotte, W.S., Illingworth, L., and A. Johnston. 1991. Everybody’s Got a Little Mental Illness: Accounts of Illness and Self among People with Severe, Persistent Mental Illness. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 5 (4): 331-369.