Author(s): Dyck I
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Abstract This paper discusses the microgeographies of unemployed women with multiple sclerosis, as they manage the physical, social and economic consequences of their illness. Recent directions in the geography of health and health care draw attention to the relationships between space, place and health experience, and in this paper a focus on the everyday lives of women with Multiple Sclerosis reveals the complex interweaving of space, physical impairment and gender in how they experience place. In-depth interviews were used in the study to investigate how women occupied and used home and neighbourhood space after leaving the paid labour force. The majority of women were found to experience shrinking social and geographical worlds which rendered their lives increasingly hidden from view as patterns of social interaction changed and use of public space diminished. The paper discusses the women's residential and household changes, mediated by marital and socio-economic status, and presents two brief case studies to illustrate the remapping of the meanings of work and place as women renegotiate their lifeworlds. The focus of the study on the spatio-temporal settings of the women's everyday lives revealed an interplay of biomedical discourse, policy structures, sociocultural norms and local sets of social relations that shaped the strategies the women used in reconstructing their lives. The women showed a diversity of responses, but these were all characterized by a restructuring of home and neighbourhood space, a reordering of personal relationships and increasing interpenetration of the public sphere in their private lives. The findings suggest that attention to the body in its geographical as well as social context provides an avenue for investigating the links between subjective experience and the broader social relations and processes which shape the illness experience.
This article was published in Soc Sci Med
and referenced in Journal of Multiple Sclerosis