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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter deals with cultural construction of life courses—in illness and in health. Patients—or people who have fallen ill, in general—are usually treated by the health-care institutions as “vehicles of disease” as they are assigned new social roles in the medical setting. The inner world of patients has been respectfully disregarded as residual features of no central importance. Even as two disciplines—medical sociology and qualitative nursing research—have recently tried to transform the situation, their way of understanding patients’ narratives and meaning making processes should be of enlightening value for the medical profession. Assuming a process-oriented research standpoint that takes the notion of time seriously is imperative for such efforts. Since the social power of the medical profession intrinsically controls the patients’ lives—in or out of medical settings—a new type of qualitative research on illness and wellness as built from the viewpoint of patients is needed. Both micro-ethnography and a qualitative approach in cultural psychology are promising and useful approaches for applying to this new mission. Thick description of one's daily life is needed and it might be called “life ethnography.” Theoretically the notions derived from Trajectory and Equifinality Model (TEM) such as zone of finality and multifinality are useful to understand the personal-cultural construction of the feeling of being (and staying) alive—and well.

Keywords: trajectory and equifinality model (tem), promoter sign, future perspective, life with illness, multifinality

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