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Storifying routines and routinising stories: A dualistic subject positioning analysis of controversies about constraints on patient autonomy

Simon Smith (2021)

Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 51(1), pp.  145-163.

Abstract. This paper uses subject positioning theory to explore how conflicts between autonomy and protection are managed in the justification of controversial care arrangements for patients with mental/neurological illness. Its basic argument is twofold: firstly, to justify or propose care arrangements at strategic or contentious moments, actors position illness as an actant and make it present in talk‐in‐interaction, exploiting alignments and misalignments between the there and then of reported events and the above and beyond of shared societal discourses to say what matters and what’s to be done here and now; secondly, the introduction of authoritative voices from elsewhere involves imbricating narrative and routine sequences in order to prioritise different subjectivities. Dilemmas opposing autonomy and protection may seem less intractable if we adopt a corresponding perspective interplay between narrative and routine situational readings.

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