Dr Maria Xenitidou

Research Fellow
+44 (0)1483 683762
24 AD 03

Academic and research departments

Department of Sociology.



Valentine Seymour, M. Xenitidou, L. Timotijevic, C.E. Elena Hodgkins, E. Ratcliffe, B. Gatersleben, N. Gilbert, C.R. Robert Jones (2024)Exploring perceptions of smart, modular living in the UK: a think aloud study, In: Behaviour & Information Technology Routledge

While there is growing interest in the design and deployment of smart and modular homes in the UK, there remain questions about the public’s readiness and willingness to live in them. Understanding what conditions prospective residents might place upon the decisions to live in such homes stands to improve their design, helping them to meet with the expectations, and requirements of their residents. Through direct interaction with a prototype of a smart and modular home within a university context, the current study investigated how people negotiate the prospect of smart and modular living, and the conditions they would place on doing so. The study explores the short observational experiences of 20 staff and students within a UK university context, using think aloud interviews. Findings indicate that whilst participants were able to identify the benefits of smart and modular homes, there were nuanced responses when they negotiated the challenges of living. Further, a framework of considerations and recommendations are presented which could support practitioners and policy makers in making more informed, citizen-led decisions on ways to adapt and improve these home solutions.

Valentine Seymour, Maria Xenitidou, Lada Timotijevic, Charo Hodgkins, Eleanor Ratcliffe, Birgitta Gatersleben, Nigel Gilbert, Chris R. Jones (2022)Incorporating the Public Perspective into the Future Design of Smart Home Living’, In: HCI International 2022 Posters 24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII 2022) Proceedings, Part IIpp. 362-367 Springer International Publishing

User-Centred Design (UCD) researchers have been investigating smart homes for 20 years and have highlighted the approaches’ effectiveness in identifying the requirements of users. Despite the growing interest in smart homes, research has shown that its adoption remains low. This owes to the tendency for research to often use a technological-centred approach to improve a pre-existing product or tailor it to target users. Visions of smart homes may therefore not have been fully based on a clear understanding of users’ needs and sociotechnical issues of concern. Enabling the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart home technologies and related sociotechnical issues of concern in the early stages of the UCD process have been widely recommended. Specifically, there have been calls to engage the public in sharing responsibility for developing data privacy agreements, data governance frameworks, and effectively domesticating technologies into life and ‘home’ systems. This paper introduces the citizens’ jury method to enable the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart homes and related sociotechnical issues. This is an understudied area of research that would be considerably valuable for practitioners in the usability and smart technology sectors. Findings from this paper are based on a cross-section of UK citizens’, exploring their opinions on sociotechnical issues of data security, accessibility to and control over use of devices and technological appliances associated with smart homes. A set of recommendation are developed to provide guidance and suggested actions on approaching these issues in the future.

V. Seymour, M. Xenitidou, L. Timotijevic, C. E. Hodgkins, E. Ratcliffe, B. Gatersleben, N. Gilbert, C. R. Jones (2024)Public acceptance of smart home technologies in the UK: a citizens’ jury study, In: Journal of decision systems Taylor & Francis

Despite growing interest, public uptake of 'smart home technologies' in the UK remains low. Barriers for accepting and opting to use smart home technologies have been linked to various socio-technical issues, including data governance. Understanding barriers for accepting to use smart home technologies is therefore important for improving their future design. Equally, enabling the public to help shape design features of these technologies from evidence-informed and deliberative approaches is also important. However, this remains an understudied area. This article reports a UK study exploring public opinion towards smart home technologies, using a Citizens' Jury method. Findings indicate that whilst participants identified the benefits of smart home technologies, participants' data sharing intentions and practices are contingent upon the condition of trust in technology developers. Study outcomes could support practitioners and policymakers in making informed, citizen-led decisions about how to adapt existing data governance frameworks pertaining to smart home technologies.

Pei-Hao Li, Ilkka Keppo, Maria Xenitidou, Maria Kamargianni (2020)Investigating UK consumers’ heterogeneous engagement in demand-side response, In: Energy efficiency13(4)621pp. 621-648 Springer Netherlands

Demand-side response (DSR), the incentivised time-shifting of energy use by consumers away from peak times, is regarded as a potentially effective measure to balance electricity supply and demand. This will be even more important in the low-carbon energy system of the future, with a high share of non-dispatchable power, such as variable renewable energy and nuclear power. Most DSR programmes require consumers’ active engagement in shifting end-use activities. Previous studies have, however, rarely revealed socio-demographic factors influential for consumers’ willingness-to-shift specific end-use activities. This study thus aims to fill this research gap and, using a multinomial logistic model to analyse a nationwide survey, identify factors influential for DSR-related decisions. The nationwide survey for 1004 respondents was carried out to collect data about consumers’ willingness-to-shift their daily activities. We focused on the activities that constitute the major part of domestic energy consumption, i.e. cooking, dish-washing, entertainment, heating, laundry and showering. According to the results, consumers’ original timing of the end-use activities, socio-demographic factors, ownership of specific appliances and level of concern for energy-saving are influential for their willingness-to-shift activities. These findings can not only help policymakers make more targeted DSR promotion plans but also help to improve broader modelling tools to better consider consumers’ willingness-to-shift their demand.

MARIA XENITIDOU (2022)Overview of issues for designing best practices surrounding informed and implied consent within field of data capture: GlobalHome 'Smart Homes', In: Overview of societal and ethical issues for designing a governance framework for deployment of RRI best practices within the construction industry for 'Smart Homes' GlobalHome University of Surrey
Maria Xenitidou (2021)Qualitative methodological approaches to citizenship and migration, In: Handbook of Citizenship and Migrationpp. 83-99 Edward Elgar Publishing

Citizenship and migration include processes of identity negotiation, categorization, constructing selves and others, and affording certain subject positions. This is done interactively in various (discursive) contexts and with different (present or absent) others. In this regard, identity construction is a discursive process which is best understood by focusing on the ways in which people engage in this process and make sense of their identities and those of others. This chapter employs a qualitative, discursive approach drawing on discursive (Edwards & Potter, 1992) and rhetorical psychology (Billig, 1991), and critical discursive social psychology (Wetherell, 1998) in the study of citizenship and migration. Through a demonstration study on citizenship and migration in Greece, it aims to show that, while in qualitative research insights are context-bound, the ways that social actors orient to issues and construct themselves and others indicate dominant ‘ways of seeing’ as well as power hierarchies.

Maria Xenitidou, A Sapountzis (2017)Qualitative methodologies in the study of citizenship and migration: Introduction to the special issue, In: Qualitative Psychology5(1)pp. 77-84 American Psychological Association

This special issue brings together contributions on citizenship from social psychology. The six papers that make up the special issue focus on different cases but they all share in common: (i) a focus on studying citizenship and migration albeit different aspects and in different contexts; (ii) an approach to citizenship from the ‘ground’, focusing on the ways in which social actors understand, negotiate and enact citizenship; (iii) the use of qualitative research to study citizenship and migration; (iv) and a social psychological perspective. Expanding on recent contributions on the study of citizenship in social psychology (Condor, 2011; Stevenson et al., 2015), the contributions in this special issue display a preoccupation with social actors’ own orientations towards citizenship in particular, using mainly discursive methods to analyze them.

A Sapountzis, Maria Xenitidou (2017)Criteria of citizenship and social inclusion in immigrants' discourse in Greece., In: Qualitative Psychology5(1)pp. 155-171 American Psychological Association

Naturalization criteria play an important role in who can be accepted as a member of a national polity. In the political and social sciences often a distinction is drawn between the right of blood- jus sanguinis- and the right of soil-jus soli- as guiding principles for naturalization. This distinction corresponds to the two different types of nationalism and national belonging identified by Kohn (1945, 1955) namely “ethnic” nationalism and “civic” nationalism. In social psychology this distinction has been used to examine which type of national belonging is more often associated to prejudice against immigrants and their exclusion. Recently approaches informed by social constructionism and discourse analysis examine how citizenship and the exclusion of immigrants are articulated in talk and what interactional goals seem to serve in each occasion. In this paper we examine how immigrants in Greece construct naturalization criteria in talk and how these may relate to the inclusion or exclusion of immigrants. Participants were 25 immigrants who participated in an interview on the current situation in Greece and the new naturalization law. Analyzing the interviews using Rhetorical Psychology, Ideological Dilemmas and Discursive Psychology we argue that participants by ridiculing citizenship criteria they legitimated their own presence within Greece. At the same time, they seemed to exclude other immigrant groups using discourses of legality/illegality. A possible reason for this dilemma, we maintain, is the diverse ideological background of the notion of citizenship, which allows its mobilization towards different ends.

AJ Gill, M Xenitidou, N Gilbert (2011)Understanding quality in science: A proposal and exploration, In: Proceedings - 2010 4th IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems Workshop, SASOW 2010pp. 116-121
M Xenitidou, S Greco-Morasso (2014)Parental discourse and identity management in the talk of indigenous and migrant speakers in Greece and the UK, In: Discourse & Society25(1)pp. 100-121 Sage

This article integrates discursive psychology and argumentation studies to discuss the regularities identified in two sets of data – focus group discussions amongst indigenous Greeks residing in Central Northern Greece and interviews with non-indigenous women with children, resident in the greater London area. The initial regularity identified consisted of participants talking as parents and talking about children mobilizing the normative expectations of parenthood in voicing strong views about ‘others’ from ethnic, cultural and racial backgrounds other than those of the speakers. This seemed to function as a form of denial, identifying further regularities in the discursive strategies used by participants and in the lines of arguments developed. Furthermore, two themes emerged as commonplace in talking about ‘others’ in the lines of argument developed by participants – security/insecurity and hierarchies. These regularities are considered and the potentials of analysing discourse from two integrated approaches are discussed.

E Andreouli, I Kadianaki, L Figgou, A Sapountzis, Maria Xenitidou (2017)‘Europe’ in Greece: Lay constructions of Europe in the context of Greek immigration debates, In: Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology27(2)pp. 158-168 Wiley

In this paper, we analyse discourses about Europe in Greek debates about immigration and citizenship and highlight the complexities of ‘Europeanness’ as a symbolic resource for argumentation in these debates. Our data consist of lay discourses from two rounds of online public deliberation (2009/2010 and 2015) about a controversial new citizenship law in Greece. Our analysis shows that Europe is an ambivalent category. On the one hand, Europe symbolises progress, but, on the other hand, it is also constructed in terms of decline and ‘contamination’ by multiculturalism. Further, our analysis shows that the category of Europe can be mobilised in contradictory ways, in order to support arguments for and against citizenship rights for migrants. The paper concludes with a discussion of the ways in which constructions of Europe are implicated in processes of othering and inclusion in the context of current immigration debates.

Corinna Elsenbroich, Maria Xenitidou (2012)Three Kinds of Normative Behaviour: Minimal Requirements for Feedback Models, In: Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory18(1)pp. 113-127 Springer Verlag

We present an analysis for modelling social norms. In social psychology three different normative behaviours have been identified: obedience, conformity and compliance. We show that this triad is a useful conceptualisation of normative behaviour and that current models only ever deal with conformity and obedience two, neglecting compliance. We argue that this is a result from modelling having so far focussed too much on agent behaviour rather than agent knowledge and that cognitive models of normative behaviour are needed to capture this third and arguably most interesting normative behaviour.

Maria Xenitidou, Antonios Sapountzis (2018)Admissions of racism in discourse on migration in Greece: Beyond the norm against prejudice?, In: European Journal of Social Psychology48(6)pp. 801-814 Wiley

The turn to language in social psychology is closely related to the study of prejudice as racist discourse has been the subject matter of some of the ground‐breaking discourse analytic work. A widely accepted argument was that there seems to be a norm against prejudice informing Western societies: people commonly engage in denials of prejudice when they make negative comments about minorities. Recent work has argued that, due to ideological shifts in the wider societal context or because denying prejudice may not be people's only rhetorical concern, it is possible to find people admitting prejudice. We examine how people in Greece, Greek majority and immigrants, formulate admissions of racism in interviews on migration and citizenship in Greece. Drawing on Ideological Dilemmas and Critical Discursive Social Psychology, we argue that these admissions ironically operate within the norm against prejudice and discuss our findings in relation to the wider socio‐political Greek context.

M Xenitidou, C Elsenbroich (2011)Construct Validity and Theoretical Embeddedness of Agentbased Models of Normative Behaviour, In: The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences5(4)pp. 67-80 Common Ground Publishing

In this paper we assess the construct validity and theoretical emdeddedness of agent-based models of normative behaviour drawing on experimental social psychology. We contend that social psychology and agent-based modelling share the focus of ‘observing’ the processes and outcomes of the interaction of individual agents. The paper focuses on two from a taxonomy of agent-based models of normative behaviour. This enables the identification of the assumptions the models are built on and in turn, reflection on the assumptions themselves from a socio-psychological perspective.

M Xenitidou (2011)National identity and otherness in Greek speakers' talk about immigration: Methodological and transdisciplinary reflections, In: Migration Letters8(2)pp. 121-131 Migration Letters & The London Publishers

The aim of the paper is to present the potential contribution of using Critical Discursive Psychology to study national identity and immigration. It draws upon a study on Greek national identity negotiations in relation to immigration. The study was guided by the perspective of banal nationalism which treats national identity as a form of life in a world divided into nation-states (Billig, 1995). In terms of Greek national identity and immigration, the study drew similarities between the perspective of banal nationalism and the critique of methodological nationalism (Wimmer and Schiller, 2002).

Maria Xenitidou, Nigel Gilbert (2009)Innovations in Social Science Research Methods NCRM E-Prints

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY One of the aims of the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) is to identify and foster methodological innovation in the UK. The aim of this project was to identify methodological innovations outside the UK and draw NCRM’s attention to them. The project sought out research practices that have not yet filtered through to typical research methods courses or that impact on the research process in novel ways. These usually entailed (i) technological innovation, (ii) the use of existing theoretical approaches and methods in new ways and (iii) interdisciplinary. The project’s focus on innovative research practices ranged from data collection to analysis and covered disciplines such as (social) psychology, sociology, social work, socio-legal studies, political science (including public health and public policy) and international studies, (social) geography (area studies, demography, environmental and urban planning), (social) anthropology, (socio-)linguistics, education, communication studies, economic and social history, economics (management and business studies), science and technology studies, statistics, methods and computing. The work was conducted between October 2008 and March 2009 and written up in April and May 2009. The project gathered evidence by reviewing previous reports, carrying out desktop research, conducting an e-mail survey with academics, practitioners, research methods experts and others (N=215) - registering data entries in the form of nominations of experts, institutions and links to explore (N=670) - and holding interviews with gatekeepers (N=36) and telephone interviews with nominated experts (N=40). The project concluded, firstly, that innovative methodologies usually entail the use of one or more technological innovation(s) (visual, digital or online). This could be the advent of new software or the development of online methods and the use of the Internet to conduct research. Secondly, innovative methodologies often entail crossing disciplinary boundaries. This is observed in combinations of disciplines and methods such as in ethnography, anthropology and psychology. Thirdly, innovative methodologies often entail the use of existing theoretical approaches and methods in reformed or mixed and applied ways. This is observed in participatory methods, action research, professional work, social and consultancy work. Finally, innovative methodologies reside both inside traditional academic institutions (universities) and outside (research centres, institutes, consultancy agencies and organisations), yet even in the latter methods developers and experts usually have academic backgrounds and previous or current affiliations, status or posts. Overall, psychology figured prominently in methodological innovations and developments followed by survey methodology, ethnography, sociology and management. These developments were classified into mixed (N=8), qualitative (N=7) and quantitative (N=7) types of research. The institutional structures identified as ‘hosting’ these developments are primarily Academic followed by both Academic and Professional, then Research Centres and finally Professional and Consultancy institutions. The majority of the innovations are a consequence of working across disciplinary boundaries, followed by developments within methods and disciplines and then by developments in technology. Innovations were mainly spotted in North America – the USA and Canada – Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. The report includes summary descriptions of the methodological innovations located by the project. As a follow up to this project a workshop will be organised to bring together some of the developers and experts identified of these innovations. The workshop is planned to be adjacent to the NCRM Research Methods Festival to be held in July 2010.

M Marangudakis, K Rontos, M Xenitidou (2013)State Crisis and Civil Consciousness in Greece., In: GreeSE Paper No.77
Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe LSE European Institute
Kavin Narasimhan, THOMAS MARK ROBERTS, MARIA XENITIDOU, GEOFFREY NIGEL GILBERT Using ABM to Clarify and Refine Social Practice Theory

We use an agent-based model to help to refine and clarify social practice theory, wherein the focus is neither on individuals nor on any form of societal totality, but on the repeated performances of practices ordered across space and time. The recursive relationship between social practices and practitioners (individuals performing practices) is strongly emphasised in social practice theory. We intend to have this recursive relationship unfold dynamically in a model where practitioners and social practices are both considered as agents. Model conceptualisation is based on the principle of structuration theory—the focus is neither on micro causing macro nor on macro influencing micro, but on the duality between structure (macro) and agency (micro). In our case, we conceptualise the duality between practitioners and practices based on theoretical insights from social practices literature; where information is unclear or insufficient, we make systematic assumptions and account for these.

M Xenitidou, N Gilbert (2012)Introduction to the Special Issue: The Processes of Methodological Innovation Narrative Accounts and Reflections, In: Methodological Innovations Online7(1)pp. 1-6 ESDS
M Xenitidou, M Emde, R Villard, U Lotzmann, KG Troitzsch (2013)Demonstrating the Theory: The case of Wikipedia, In: G Andrighetto, M Campennì, R Conte (eds.), Minding Norms, Oxford Series on Cognitive Models and Architectures Oxford University Press
M Xenitidou, I Kokkali (2016)The regularities of migration? Thematic and discursive interplay in the talk of Greeks and Albanians in Greece, In: M Danesi, S Greco Morasso (eds.), Case studies in Discourse Analysis Lincom Europe
E Andreouli, I Kadianaki, Maria Xenitidou (2016)Citizenship and social psychology: an analysis of constructions of Greek citizenship, In: C Howarth, E Andreouli (eds.), The Social Psychology of Everyday Politicspp. 87-101 Routledge
Maria Xenitidou, Corinna Elsenbroich (2010)Construct Validity and Theoretical Embeddedness of Agent-based Models of Normative Behaviour, In: International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences5(4)pp. 67-80 Common Ground

In this paper we assess the construct validity and theoretical emdeddedness of agent-based models of normative behaviour drawing on experimental social psychology. We contend that social psychology and agent-based modelling share the focus of 'observing' the processes and outcomes of the interaction of individual agents. The paper focuses on two from a taxonomy of agent-based models of normative behaviour. This enables the identification of the assumptions the models are built on and in turn, reflection on the assumptions themselves from a socio-psychological perspective.

Additional publications