The purpose of this thesis is to develop a conceptual and theoretical understanding of place, with particular emphasis on places of wellbeing and illbeing, by taking account of life as a process. The thesis rests on empirical ground and takes off from the lack of conceptual and theoretical understanding and the neglected relationship between wellbeing, illbeing, place and lived lives in similar research.
The theoretical framework deals with chosen views on the object of knowledge and the sources. It deals with the concepts of wellbeing, illbeing, place, place descriptions and life stories. In the light of Nordenfelt’s theory of quality of life and in contrast to space the merged object of knowledge, as places of wellbeing and illbeing, is defined as the positively and negatively experienced geographic, known and meaningful world, surrounding the body. Place descriptions and lifestories are understood as attempts to reconstruct past, present and expected place experiences and life experiences.
The method is inspired by Charmaz version of Grounded Theory Method, although the theory is presented at the end of this thesis. Therefore it is called grounded analytical. The survey participants are seniors, for several reasons. They have been found via PRO, SPF, service houses and advertisements. The interviews were usually held at the home of the participants and have been interpreted as fusions of my understanding and the participants' understanding. The interviews focus on what the participants have said, not how, which in turn has decided how the place descriptions and the life stories have been transcribed. In order to get a grip of the transcribed material, it has been read through several times and then exposed to open coding, categorizing, focused coding and conceptual development, paralleled with memos. Conceptual categories that have survived critical tests have merged whereby theoretical contexts finally have been constructed. The chapter on theory and method ends with an ethical discussion about consent, information, confidentiality and use and a general discussion about used quality criteria’s.
The empirical chapters are three. The first one deals with the properties of the places of wellbeing and illbeing, from an object perspective. Firstly the places of wellbeing and illbeing seem to be meaningful with positive and negative meanings. They are also spatial, in large and small scale. Some of them seem to shimmer. Most places of wellbeing and illbeing are stationary, but some are mobile. All of them are temporal, but some of them are invariant and others are changing. An overall property is that they all are bound in different ways: sex bound, age bound and class bound. Finally they all seem to be subordinate the thematic characteristics of nature, social aspects, culture, body and activity.
The second empirical chapter deals with the opposite and attributed meanings of places of wellbeing and illbeing, from a subject perspective. They are found to be: vital and ill, natural and unnatural, aesthetic and unaesthetic, community and non community, harmonious and disharmonious, homelike and foreign and free and unfree meanings. Free and unfree meanings seem to permeate all of the above attributed meanings. Often there is a combination of the above meanings which together seem to make up for the overall experience of place. The attributed meanings are in their turn interpreted as nourishing and consuming meanings, as pleasing/uncomfortable in an emotional sense, like stimulating/repressive on the psyche and strengthening/weakening of the body. Places of wellbeing and illbeing as nourishing and consuming places are understood as places which have succeeded and failed to satisfy needs and desires, for the seven attributed reasons above.
The third empirical chapter deals with the transformation of empirical data into theory, via a process perspective. The chapter starts with an analysis of properties and attributed meanings of places of wellbeing and illbeing found in a whole life story. As a result of the places being obvious in whole lives, the concept of place is interpreted and transformed into life place. Then the meaning of life place is related to the similar concept of life situation. The relationship can be compared to a sliding scale, where the meanings converge in geographical position, valuation in terms of well-being and illbeing and motivations and diverge in cases where life situation excludes geographical position. The concept of life place is then developed with the support of various phenomenological theories which correspond with the empirical data. The final sections offer an overall interpretive framework that shows how life places of wellbeing and illbeing appear in the light of lived lives. Results show that life places are held up as memorable, attracting and repulsive life places. Attracting life places are hunted and consumed of its nourishing ingredients, in other words positive attributed meanings, with the goal to satisfy needs and desires. Correspondingly repulsive life places have been abandoned because of their consuming ingredients, in other words negatively attributed meanings, which have been at odds with needs and desires and thus failed to satisfy them. In a final attempt to theorize on how life places of wellbeing and illbeing appear in the light of lived lives, as attracting and repulsive life places, they are moreover interpreted as valuable contrasts in life, in both physical and phenomenological sense. Consequently they are also called contrast life places.
The last chapter deals with the results in relation to other place-oriented research, the scientific contribution of knowledge and the relevance of the knowledge in public health policy.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. , 213 p.
2012-09-12, Tvärsnittet, Kopparhammaren, Campus Norrköping, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
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