Sociology > Sociology of Health and Illness

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Households are sites where a progressive politics of change towards sustainability can be nourished. Efforts to do so, however, must attend to gender dynamics. Our aim is to improve our understanding of how gender and sustainability intersect at the household level and engage with progressive politics in this context. To do so, we present a collaborative autoethnography focused on gender and sustainability in our household covering five years during which we experienced multiple lifecourse transitions. Building on this we answer two questions. First, how does the encounter between personal experiences and scholarship shape conceptual refinement? Second, how do personal experiences and scholarship combine to shape what we understand as progressive politics? This article not only advances the understanding of gender and sustainability in households and progressive politics in this context but also shows that collaborative autoethnography offers a valuable methodological toolkit for advancing research towards progressive politics.

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This article explores the emotional challenges of digital documentation practices in child protection social work. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Swedish social services, it explores how social workers negotiate organisational and professional feeling rules when performing child protection investigations using a digital documentation-based structure. Theoretically informed by Arlie Hochschild and other emotion sociologists’ discussions on the origins of feeling rules at work, the study concentrates on how organisational feeling rules challenge professional ideals and force situated negotiations. The documentation structure was introduced and framed as a guarantee that social workers would no longer be guided by emotions but by facts; at the same time, new emotional dilemmas arose when professionals worked according to these ideals. Negotiations between organisational and professional feeling rules were identified regarding traces of emotional work in the documentation, compliance with documentation-based routines in unpredictable client interactions, and professional (dis)satisfaction when documenting activities took time away from meeting with clients. Adding to the existing body of research, the study demonstrates that digital documentation practices deepen the increasingly ambivalent place for emotions in social work and that organisational-administrative emotional regimes are negotiated in situ with other ideals by social workers and frontline managers. By giving examples of social workers’ micro-resistance to organisational feeling rules, the study contributes theoretically with insights into the different origins of feeling rules in professional welfare work and the power (a)symmetry between them. Finally, by situating the tensions between competing ideals in everyday practice, the study adds to the understanding of technostress and emotional fatigue.

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This article deals with the causes and consequences of divorce in a group of women with minor children in Spain, a country in Southern Europe that presents a pre-eminently familistic character based on a marked division of gender roles. We detected an imbalance between qualitative and quantitative studies on this topic, of which the latter are more numerous in the recently published literature. For this reason, here we wish to show the people behind the data by conferring two questions making up the analysis axes of this research. First, we deal with the causes of couple breakups, which are related to inequality in the distribution of housework and care tasks in all cases. Second, we analyse their speeches about work and family conciliation after divorce, with particular importance given to the presence, or not, of a strong family network.

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Names have heightened importance in adoption, affecting the identities of individuals who are adopted and adoptive family making. In this article, we use critical discourse analysis to gauge how names, and especially children’s forenames, are addressed in the specificities of legal and policy texts governing and guiding the milieu of people affected by adoption in England. We argue that the inclusions, omissions and opacity of content on names we uncover are outcomes of underlying representations of ‘family’ within the texts, whereby ‘family surnaming’ is constructed as the pre-eminent naming issue in adoption, above children’s forename-based identity rights. Our focus on names in adoption advances sociological understandings of the power of names in representing family relationships and individual identities, and of how official discourses of law and policy can privilege some types of relationships over others, and the rights of some family members over others.

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A central message of this afterword is that HIV is not over and that the lives of people living with HIV are not over. Yet they continue to live with the stigma associated with HIV, as though their lives should be over. The critical gaze of caregivers, policymakers and researchers must be focused not on people living with HIV, but on people, policies and providers who stigmatise and marginalise. That is the central theme of all the stories we have heard, from all over the world, in this book. A goal of this book has been to encourage caregivers and policymakers not to participate in HIV stigma by assuming that the emotional, sexual and relational lives of people living with HIV in later life are over. Part of what living with HIV has done is to encourage people to reclaim all of their lives, including sex and sexuality, free from judgements and assumptions of otherness. The chapter concludes by drawing parallels between HIV and COVID-19.

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As HIV treatment and prevention have advanced, the HIV response has become increasingly biomedicalised. However, biomedical solutions are insufficient to address the social, psychological and relational impacts of HIV. Drawing on a participatory qualitative study, this chapter discusses the views and experiences of older women living with HIV in the United Kingdom to explore the barriers HIV can pose for intimacy. Women living with HIV do not live single-issue lives, and different intersecting factors influence their experiences and views of sex and intimacy. These factors include ageism, sexism, anti-trans discrimination and past experiences of sexual and gender-based violence. Partners’ attitudes, wider society and diverse life experiences all influence sex and sexual behaviours in women ageing with HIV, indicating the limitations of an increasingly biomedicalised HIV response.

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In recent years, chemsex has become the object of intense public scrutiny, mainly based on pathologising and panic-raising narratives. Building on critical contributions across the social sciences and cultural studies, the chapter focuses on an underexplored dimension within the literature on chemsex: ageing with HIV. Centred around the narratives of self-identified gay men living with HIV, aged over 45 and who practise chemsex, in England and Italy, the chapter analyses the relationship between their life courses and their engagement with chemsex. Data analysis reveals how research participants frame their engagement with chemsex as driven by the quest for sociality combined with a rediscovery of sexual pleasure and an improved sense of comfort with their bodies resulting from the emergence of the paradigm of undetectability. However, through the adoption of an intergenerational and intersectional perspective, the chapter reveals also ambivalences and tensions within participants’ engagement with chemsex.

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Women living with HIV who do not belong to epidemiological target groups (referred to as ‘key populations’) represent an invisible group of people who are often ignored in public and medical debates about HIV/AIDS. Additionally, sexuality related to ‘older’ people is often considered taboo, and sexual issues for ‘older’ women are mainly addressed from a clinical perspective. Considering that gender and sexual orientations have shaped the medical and social representations of the AIDS pandemic, the chapter discusses how ageing with HIV affects specifically women’s sexuality and love lives. This is based on the narratives and experiences of 30 women living and ageing with HIV in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

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Current HIV prevention programmes in Ukraine are focused on sexual education of young people and prevention of vertical transmission, and on drug users. This chapter considers the experiences of Ukrainian older women who have HIV. Based on 12 interviews with HIV-positive women and representatives of HIV community services, the study identifies specific social and psychological problems of this group, reveals their attitudes towards their sexual lives and exposes their strengths and vulnerabilities. Notable findings of the research include: the self-blame and moral suffering of older women living with HIV; their scorned intimacies, which tend to be hidden; and the need to adjust national approaches to epidemic control in order to integrate the needs of older people into HIV policy. The chapter provides recommendations for prevention interventions for women ageing with HIV.

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