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‘The Good Citizen’

Balancing Moral Possibilities in Everyday Life between Sensation, Symptom and Healthcare Seeking

Sara Marie Hebsgaard Offersen, Peter Vedsted and Rikke Sand Andersen

Keywords: Denmark; healthcare seeking; middle class; morality; sensations; sensescape; symptoms; welfare

This article explores how healthcare-seeking practices and the transformation of bodily sensations into symptoms are embedded in what we term a ‘moral sensescape’ of ev- eryday life. Based on fieldwork in a suburban middle-class neighbourhood in Denmark, we discuss how a moral relation between the Danish welfare state and the middle-class popula- tion is embodied in a responsibility for individual health. Overall, we identify a striving to be a ‘good citizen’; this entails conflicting moral possibilities in relation to experiencing, inter- preting and acting on bodily sensations. We examine how people meet the conflicting moral possibilities of complying with current public health rhetoric on proper healthcare seeking, including timely presentation of symptoms, and simultaneously try to avoid misusing the healthcare system and be characterised as overly worried or even as a hypochondriac; this challenge constitutes complex navigational routes through the moral sensescape of the Danish middle class.

Affiliations

Offersen, Sara Marie Hebsgaard - Aarhus University

Vedsted, Peter - Aarhus University

Andersen, Rikke Sand - Aarhus University