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Frisk och sjuk: Vardagliga föreställningar om hälsan och dess motsatser
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Communications Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1994 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Ill and well : Everyday conceptions of health and its opposites (English)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the present study is to analyse the content of everyday conceptions of health and illness and to elucidate through this analysis what these conceptions can tell us about our time.

The analysis is based on two types of material: interviews with lay persons about health and illness, and newspaper articles and biographies concerning certain topics. Thirty-three people were interviewed with the aid of a semi-structured questionnaire. The questions were formulated on the lines of the interview guide used by the French sociologist Claudine Herzlich in a study of the social representation of health and illness in a French group. The analytical model employed was a variant of a general model for qualitative analysis.

Five different conceptions of health have been identified: health as absence of disease, health as well-being, health as balance, health as strength, and health as an ideal. Disease is characterised, by the lay persons, not just as just a fault in a person's body but also (and indeed primarily) as a disturbance in the person's life. It involves both a biographical and a normative non-normality, which is to say that it is a question both of not being able to be as one usually is and of not being like others. The analysis of conceptions of disease as a general phenomenon includes conceptions of causes of disease. The basis for the overall classification of the causes which have been identified is the distinction between human acts and non-acts. Corresponding to this classification of causes is a classification of disease into self-inflicted, inflicted-by-others and non-inflicted. In the latter categoty we can find heredity, bad luck and chance. In the analysis of conceptions about specific diseases, commonplace infections, Aids, cardiac infarction and cancer, there emerges a central theme which can be described as control versus fatalism. Fatalism is understood here as an expression of a criticism of the modern project.

Whilst it is true that the explosive increase in scientific lmowledge has created a new type of certainty and of deepening faith in experts, what has happened at the same time is that our capacity for both talcing the world for granted and adopting a reflexive stance towards it has createda new uncertainty - an uncertainty as to whether the base for our present knowledge was the right one. Our double predicament is that We find ourselves betweell trust and distrust, between certainty and uncertainty.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1994. , 214 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 119
Keyword [en]
lay conceptions, the medicalization process, sociology of health and illness, everyday typologies of diseases, 20th century, Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35091Local ID: 24828ISBN: 91-7871-465-6OAI: diva2:255939
Public defence
1994-12-16, Sal Elysion, Hus-T, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2012-06-04Bibliographically approved

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Tegern, Gunilla
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Department of Communications StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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