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Book: Discourse and Responsibility in Professional Settings

Chapter: Chapter 5: Whose business is it anyway? Distributing responsibilities between family members and formal carers

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.26841


This study reports on a discourse analysis of how responsibilities for the care of older people are defined and distributed in the interview talk of working caregivers in Finland. The analysis focuses on how the interviewees depict their encounters with professionals (e.g. social and health care workers) and the responsibilities attached to the position of a family member versus a professional. In the interview talk, the roles of the professionals range from authorities and experts who ally with family members to adversaries or failing experts whose actions require involvement of the client’s family members. Being a trustworthy professional requires not only having expert knowledge and technical skills but taking overall responsibility for the wellbeing of the client. The findings show that family members categorize professionals as competent or as failing to fulfil their responsibilities. The central question is whether both parties have an equal opportunity to express their views and whether open communication is possible to develop professional decision-making and client interaction.

Chapter Contributors

  • Outi Jolanki ( - ojolanki) 'University of Jyväskylä'