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Instrumental and moral assistance : An embodied interaction analysis of assisted shopping activities between a person with acquired brain injury and her caregivers

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The present paper takes an ethnomethodological and conversation analytical perspective on assisted shopping as it is done by a person with acquired brain injury in collaboration with her caregiver. My interest is directed towards the interactional and embodied organization of the situated selecting and decision-making processes, while I am aiming to understand the interactional organization of assistance and agency. The embodied interaction analysis is based on two video-recorded examples in which a caregiver treats the institutional resident’s shopping choice as either unproblematic or undesirable. I will differentiate five phases in which the participants systematically organize the selection process. In these phases, the participants take different roles either as shopper or as assistant caregiver; as to the later, I will distinguish between moral and instrumental assistance. The analysis demonstrates an inherent tension in the assistance during shopping activities, as it is oriented to both the incompetence that justifies the need for assistance and to the interactional construction of a competent and independent shopper.

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Keywords: acquired brain injury; atypical interaction; caregiving; decision-making; embodied interaction; ethnomethodology and conversation analysis; guiding; shopping

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 31, 2020

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