Agents in time: Representations of chronic illness

Tanisha Jowsey, Nathaniel Ward, Karen Gardner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the Indigenous people of Australia. The prevalence and burden of chronic disease among them is significantly higher than that of non-Indigenous Australians. This paper describes the chronic illness experiences of 19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban areas in terms of their strategic representations of self. Participants in this study used techniques of revealing and concealing chronic illness. These strategies were employed in multiple arenas - among family, among broader community, and in specific spaces including health care services. They highlight tensions that arise through the intersection between the desire to preserve family and community life, and the ways in which the physical body manifests chronic illness. In this paper we bring together notions of time (drawing on Zimbardo's time perspectives theory) and biography (drawing on Bury's disrupted biography theory). Through an analysis of shifting boundaries we conduct an exploratory investigation of the ways in which urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this study weave together elements of both past and future perspectives to mobilise modes of self-representation and agency in their management of chronic illness. We then consider some options for primary health care.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)243-254
    JournalHealth Sociology Review
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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