Empowering the elderly? A qualitative study of municipal home-health visits and everyday rehabilitation

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


Based upon 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in a Danish municipality, this work provides an in-depth look at the real-life encounters between municipal health professionals and ageing citizens in order to describe how the Danish state’s political goals and health policies influence the provision of in-home health services for the elderly. In her dissertation, Amy Clotworthy argues that the categorisation of later life as a period of poor health and deterioration positions ‘the elderly’ as a high-risk, potentially burdensome sub-group of society. However, this perception has simultaneously become entangled with a positive discourse about healthy ageing and active social engagement to constitute a specific type of citizen;a ‘limited yet limitless’ ageing consumer. By investigating how the goal of eldercare in Denmark has shifted from providing help to enabling self-help, the dissertation describes how both municipal health professionals and elderly citizens navigate the political discourses that frame their relational encounter. The analysis elucidates how home-health visits and ‘everyday rehabilitation’ programmes for ageing citizens can be understood as social, material, and cultural interactions that are more than simply sites of health promotion, governmentality, or the dissemination of political rhetoric.Clotworthy suggests that a more caring response to neoliberal conceptualisations about individualism and self-responsibility may produce an alternative form of empowerment; a form of collaboration and connectivity that could have a positive effect on both citizens and health professionals – and ultimately, perhaps, Danish society
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDet Humanistiske Fakultet, Københavns Universitet
Number of pages222
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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