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Sociol Health Illn. 2009 Jul;31(5):688-704. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2009.01158.x. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Tacit knowledge of caring and embodied selfhood.

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  • 1Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, ON, Canada.


The tacit knowledge paradigm is gaining recognition as an important source of knowledge that informs clinical decision-making. It is, however, limited by an exclusive focus on knowledge acquired through clinical practice, and a consequent neglect of the primordial and socio-cultural significance of embodied selfhood, precisely what provides the foundational structure of tacit knowledge of caring and facilitates its manifestation. Drawing on findings from a qualitative study of 43 dementia care practitioners in Ontario, Canada that utilised research-based drama and focus group methodology, we argue that embodied selfhood is fundamental to tacit knowledge of caring. Results are analysed drawing upon the theoretical precepts of embodied selfhood that are rooted in Merleau-Ponty's (1962) reconceptualisation of perception and Bourdieu's (1977, 1990) notion of habitus. We conclude with a call for further exploration of the body as a site of the production of tacit knowledge.

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