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Känslornas betydelse i funktionshindrade barns livsvärld
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of my study is to describe and understand disabled children’s special way of understanding and relating to the surrounding world. The thesis is based on an empirical study of six severely disabled children, lacking language and speech, aged from nine months to five years. The children were studied by video recordings in Händelsriket, a center organised to offer them different kinds of rich stimulation.

One important finding was that the children expressed a non-verbal, meaning making competence that I decided to further explore. First, I tried to interpret the children’s competence in the frame of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories, which turned out to be difficult as these theories were based on assumptions linked to the tradition of René Descartes, making a clear difference between Cogito and body, nature and culture. In this tradition, human consciousness is based on the acquisition of language and the development of the sphere of symbols. As a consequence, the mentioned theories could not help us to understand the embodied, non-verbal competence of the disabled children. Many of these theorists also argue that their theories have little relevance for disabled children.

However, the phenomenological tradition, inspired by among others Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, was of much more help in the analysis of the disabled children’s activities in Händelsriket. In the theory of the lifeworld, Husserl´s and Merleau-Ponty´s, for instance, introduces two different kinds of intentionality indicating an embodied consciousness of great relevance to the empirical findings.

Another important empirical finding was that feelings, and the expression of feelings, seemed to play an important role in the children’s non-verbal, meaning making competence. As a consequence of this I have decided to include a discussion of research on feelings, emotions and affects. Based on the critique of the distinction between feelings, emotions and affects in social and anthropological research, I have decided to base my analysis on the concept of feelings.

In the empirical analyses I discuss the role of feelings in the disabled children’s perception, consciousness, communication and interaction with other people. I found that the meaning making processes based on feelings and expression of feelings contributed to the development of the children’s personal styles of understanding their life-world. It also played an important role in the thematisation of their experiences, antecipations of objects, extensions and restrictions of their experiential horizons and their mastering of challenging experiences. The feelings also played important roles in the children’s communicative competence and in their interaction with other people and the development of mutual closeness, understanding and community. In short, the feelings could be understood as important constituents of the life-world of the severely disabled children, their understanding of themselves and of the surrounding world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Pedagogiska institutionen , 2004. , 205 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar från Pedagogiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1104-1625 ; nr 124
Keyword [en]
children, disability, feelings, non-verbal competence, hermeneutics, phenomenology, life-world.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-114ISBN: 91-7265-850-9OAI: diva2:189473
Public defence
2004-05-12, Nordenskiöldsalen, Goevetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2004-04-21 Created: 2004-04-21Bibliographically approved

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