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Soc Sci Med. 2016 Feb;150:153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.12.027. Epub 2015 Dec 20.

The assisted presentations of self in nursing home life.

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Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA), Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), Norway. Electronic address:
University of Oslo (UiO), Department of Sociology and Human Geography, Norway.
Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA), Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), Norway.


In this paper, based on ethnographic data from five nursing homes, we introduce the concept of assisted self-presentation as an analytical tool for exploring how different care practices affect nursing home residents' dignity and sense of self. Practices of assisted self-presentation are geared at recognizing and preserving the individuality and autonomy of residents in situations where it may otherwise come under threat or be misrecognized. Sufficient or appropriate forms of attentiveness to residents' selves and sense of dignity is thus a matter of finding the right balance between intervening too much or too little in residents' production of their physical or social appearance. Here, staff-members' knowledge and recognition of the individuality of residents is essential. Whereas intervening too much in residents' appearance or performance of self might be perceived and experienced as pacifying, infantilizing, or as paternalistic overbearingness, intervening too little might be seen as neglectfulness or inhumane. Since practices of assisted self-presentation refer to a kind of social action, which will always be contingent upon the specific capacities and conditions of performing actors, it allows for the simultaneous recognition of failed or perverted work practices as well as promising practices through which residents' selves are successfully recognized.


Assisted self-presentation; Norway; Nursing homes; Person-centred care

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