Personlig assistans i praktiken : Beredskap initiativ och vänskaplighet

Sammanfattning: Personal assistance is a user-directed service that was founded by a section of the disability movement, namely the American Independent Living movement, in the late 1960s. Today, the concept and ideology of personal assistance services (PAS) has spread worldwide, and constitutes a part of the support system for people with disabilities in many countries. The service differs from several other publicly financed services since users of personal assistance are given the opportunity to employ and supervise the staff providing the service. Organizing services in this way is presumed to enhance self-sufficiency of persons with disabilities and improve their chances of so-called independent living. This dissertation deals with personal assistance services (PAS) in the Swedish context. The aim is to illuminate and understand how personal assistance is carried out socially. To explore this, an ethnographic field study was conducted. The field study focused on face-to-face interaction of adult users with physical impairments and their personal assistants. Analysis and interpretation of the empirical material was primarily guided by Goffman’s dramaturgical perspective and concepts. Results show that the users and their personal assistants balance and shift between different modes of interacting with and approaching each other; by doing so they create and withhold definitions of the situations that are crucial for carrying out personal assistance services. “Preparedness” refers to their passivity, but also readiness, in situations when the users and personal assistants are idle. “Initiative” refers to their negotiations, but also agreements, concerning how the practical help of the personal assistance should be carried out. “Friendliness” refers to their small talk but also to the informal way of approaching each other.