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The Knowledgeable Parent: Ideologies of Communication in Swedish Health Discourse
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1776-435X
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Den kunniga föräldern : Kommunikationsideologier i svensk hälsodiskurs (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the communication of health knowledge among new parents in Sweden. Based on three separate studies, the thesis employs a selection of theoretical concepts and methodological approaches, mainly originating from mediated discourse analysis and linguistic anthropology. Study 1 takes a broad view on the object and asks how knowledge circulates and emerges in a particular arena for parental knowledge. Drawing on nine months of online fieldwork on a discussion forum thread for expectant parents, the study shows that communication of knowledge is engendered by entextualizations and recenterings of previous experiences, including encounters with discourse. This fact challenges categorical conceptions that construct some sources of health knowledge as trustworthy and others as unreliable, and thus, potentially harmful. Study 2 narrows the focus to professionals typically perceived as producers of parental health knowledge, namely, midwives who give prenatal education classes. Drawing on a dataset comprising observations of classes as well as interviews with midwives, the study throws analytical light on anticipatory discourse, that is, discourse designed to dictate and influence the future, and elucidates some of the ways in which midwives prepare the participants for their upcoming delivery by discursively constructing links to these future events. Study 3, finally, takes the perspective of a single individual in whose life several forms of communicated parental knowledge converge as she becomes a mother. The study focuses on a period during which this individual struggles with breastfeeding problems. A combination of the notions of interdiscursivity and the historical body is here employed to grasp this experience as shaped in relation to discourse regarding child care and health. Looking at narrative data through this lens, the study shows how this individual connects failure to follow official breastfeeding recommendations to failure to perform child care in an appropriate way. At heart, the study makes a case for the moral loading of health knowledge and cautions against the assumption that authoritative medical knowledge is the only means for taking action that a new mother might need. In conclusion, the present thesis utilizes a combination of theoretical and methodological tools from MDA and linguistic anthropology to enable a discourse analysis of health communication that privileges a view of language in use as accumulating vis-à-vis engendering meaning over time and in relation to social action. Invoking the notion of ideologies of communication, it demonstrates that parents’ knowledge about their children’s health is a non-neutral issue, and that instrumental aspects of parental health knowledge can never be isolated from moral ideas regarding how particular parenting practices are to be carried out. At the same time, the thesis points out that while representatives of institutions of the welfare state may produce messages to communicate health knowledge, the knowledge obtained by individuals is the product of myriad discursive encounters and other experiences, of which the discourse produced by representatives of state institutions constitutes only one share.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm University , 2017. , p. 72
Series
Stockholm studies in Scandinavian philology, ISSN 0562-1097 ; 65
Keyword [en]
child care, health communication, knowledge, language ideology, linguistic anthropology, mediated discourse analysis, parenting, sociolinguistics, the welfare state
Keyword [sv]
föräldraskap, hälsokommunikation, kunskap, lingvistisk antropologi, medierad diskursanalys, sociolingvistik, språkideologi, välfärdsstaten
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139562ISBN: 978-91-7649-686-2 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7649-687-9 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-139562DiVA, id: diva2:1072837
Public defence
2017-03-24, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Accepted.

Available from: 2017-03-01 Created: 2017-02-08 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Nine months of entextualizations: Discourse and knowledge in an online discussion forum thread for expectant parents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nine months of entextualizations: Discourse and knowledge in an online discussion forum thread for expectant parents
2017 (English)In: Entangled Discourses: South–North Orders of Visibility / [ed] Caroline Kerfoot, Kenneth Hyltenstam, New York: Routledge, 2017, p. 154-170Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The main argument of this chapter is that knowledge is a phenomenon to be understood in the intersection of discourse and action, and that entextualization (Bauman and Briggs 1990) mediates this relationship. Drawing on mediated discourse analysis (Scollon and Scollon 2004; Jones 2013), the chapter explores an online discussion forum thread used by over 200 pregnant women expecting a child in the same month. The empirical examples demonstrate how the participants in this thread exchange information, provide reports and contest knowledge. By way of these examples, the analysis claims that a key process in such knowledge practices is the entextualization of prior actions, often from the private life of the participants. Through such processes, a range of transient actions are treated as a unit, such as an experience, that is given a linguistic form. Recentered in the interaction of the thread, the unit functions as a piece of knowledge for others to draw on. In this vein, the discussion forum becomes a resource for the participants to appropriate control over medical knowledge and the biologically and socially turbulent experience of pregnancy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Routledge, 2017
Series
Routledge Critical Studies in Multilingualism ; 12
Keyword
entextualization, health communication, health discourse, health knowledge, knowledge, mediated discourse analysis, online discussion forums, pregnancy, recentering, diskussionsforum, entextualisering, graviditet, hälsodiskurs, hälsokommunikation, hälsokunskap, kunskap, medierad diskursanalys, recentrering
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139559 (URN)9781138192263 (ISBN)9781315640006 (ISBN)
Available from: 2017-02-08 Created: 2017-02-08 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved
2. Anticipatory discourse in prenatal education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Anticipatory discourse in prenatal education
2018 (English)In: Discourse & Communication, ISSN 1750-4813, E-ISSN 1750-4821, Vol. 12, no 1, p. 3-19Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores communicative aspects of preparing others, by studying prenatal education classes in which midwives prepare expectant parents for delivery. Data include documentation from classes and interviews with the presenters. This twofold dataset enables investigation into how ideologies of communication figure into the production of discourse. A dominant idea is that discourse can stand in for lived experience in the endeavor to decrease nervousness and fear in the expectant parents. The observation data are therefore analyzed by paying attention to how the expectant parents’ future deliveries are discursively represented. Drawing on the conceptual framework for analyzing anticipatory discourse, the study shows how the midwives largely frame this future as predictable and the mother as highly agentive. When addressing unexpected turbulence, however, the midwives use the opportunity to stress the agency of medical professionals to maintain a representation of the delivery event as generally predictable.

Keyword
anticipatory discourse, childbirth, health communication, ideology of communication, language ideology, parental education, preparation, antecipatorisk diskurs, barnafödande, förberedelse, förlossningsförberedande utbildning, föräldrautbildning, hälsokommunikation, kommunikationsideologi, språkideologi
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139560 (URN)10.1177/1750481317735708 (DOI)000419850500001 ()
Available from: 2017-02-08 Created: 2017-02-08 Last updated: 2018-02-05Bibliographically approved
3. The failing body: Narratives of breast­feeding troubles and shame
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The failing body: Narratives of breast­feeding troubles and shame
2017 (English)In: Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, ISSN 1055-1360, E-ISSN 1548-1395, Vol. 27, no 2, p. 232-251Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores the relationship between discourse and experiences of ill health. Drawing on narratives, it shows how a mother experiencing difficulties breastfeeding embodies sentiments of shame over what she perceives as a failure to perform motherhood. The notions of interdiscursivity and historical bodies are employed to ground the individual’s experience in discursive practices and to argue that shame is a sentiment that arises in the rupture of biopolitical ideologies construed in those practices. Expressing shame becomes a resource for assuming responsibility over failed motherhood, at the same time that it appears to obstruct recovery to smoothly functioning breastfeeding.

Abstract [sv]

Den här artikeln utforskar förhållandet mellan diskurs och erfarenheter av ohälsa. Med hjälp av narrativa data visar artikeln hur en mor som har problem med amningen förkroppsligar skamkänslor över vad hon uppfattar som ett misslyckande att performera moderskap. Begreppen interdiskursivitet och historisk kropp används för att förstå hur individens erfarenheter relaterar till diskursiva praktiker, samt för att föra fram tesen att skam är en känsla som uppstår i disharmoni med biopolitiska ideologier som konstrueras i dessa praktiker. Att uttrycka skam blir en resurs för att ta på sig ansvaret för det misslyckade moderskapet, samtidigt som det förefaller förhindra återgången till en fungerande amning.

Keyword
biopolitics, health communication, historical body, illness narratives, interdiscursivity, biopolitik, historisk kropp, hälsokommunikation, interdiskursivitet, sjukdomsnarrativ
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139561 (URN)10.1111/jola.12158 (DOI)000407615600006 ()
Available from: 2017-02-08 Created: 2017-02-08 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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