The construction of Sami identity, health, and old age in policy documents and life stories. A discourse analysis and a narrative study.
AuthorBlix, Bodil Hansen
During their lifetimes, the current cohort of elderly Sami in Norway witnessed tremendous social changes regarding the situation of the Sami people. The overall aim of the study was to explore how elderly Sami’s experiences of health and identity in old age are worked and expressed in the stories they tell about their lives. The thesis is based on a discourse analysis of Norwegian policy documents regarding healthcare services for elderly Sami and a narrative analysis of the life stories of nineteen elderly Sami as related in the context of qualitative research interviews. The documents reflected a close association between Sami culture and personal identity. The image of the Sami culture constructed in the documents was dominated by symbols associated with certain aspects of Sami culture. The Sami were presented as either Sami-speaking or bilingual, and never as monolingual Norwegian speakers. Furthermore, the elderly individuals were referred to as either Sami or Norwegian, and more fluid and ambiguous identities were excluded. There was a strong focus on healthcare providers’ cultural and linguistic competence in the documents. The narrative analysis of the elderly Sami’s life stories demonstrated that rather than being a passive condition, being healthy is an active process in which resistance plays a central role. Established “truths” about what is considered healthy and the perception of the Sami as victims of Norwegianization were challenged in the life stories. Furthermore, the narrative study demonstrated that rather than having an established identity, the elderly Sami were identifying through the stories they told about their lives. The study demonstrated that elderly Sami’s life stories are sources of insights regarding their experiences of identity and health in old age, both as subjective conditions and influenced by historical and social contexts.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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