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  2. Developing a carer identity and negotiating everyday life through social networking sites: an explorative study on identity constructions in an online Swedish carer community

Developing a carer identity and negotiating everyday life through social networking sites: an explorative study on identity constructions in an online Swedish carer community

An overarching reason why carers do not utilise support services is that many people who perform care-giving do not necessarily self-identify as a carer. Understanding the development of carer identities is therefore crucial for the utilisation of different carer-focused health services. This study arose from the European Union-funded INNOVAGE project and aimed to describe how older carers conceptualise and understand their identity as carers on a Swedish online social forum. Theoretically the study adopts a constructionist approach and the method of netnography was applied. The findings reveal that a change in self-perception occurs in the process through which a carer role is acquired. The presence or absence of recognition for the older carers’ capacity, knowledge and life situation is seen as filtered through the needs of the care recipient, making the carer identity into an invisible self. This is not least the case when the identity is constructed in alliance with conceptual and moral obligations found within a marital discourse. Nevertheless, the opportunity for online communication may help to create a virtual space of social recognition through which different experiences attached to caring can be discussed. The significance of online communication is here understood as the possibility it presents for carers to be recognised by other carers. It is a process through which an invisible self can become visible.

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
Type of Work
Journal article
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
ISBN/ISSN
0144-686X
Publication Year
2018
Issue Number
11
Journal Titles
Ageing & Society
Volume Number
38
Start Page
2304
End Page
2324