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Renegotiating relationships: Theorising shared experiences of dementia within the dyadic career

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Accepted/In press29 May 2018
E-pub ahead of print2 Jul 2018


King's Authors


The dyad is increasingly recognised as a key site of experiences of dementia, yet theoretical accounts of the dyad remain poor. 21st century political developments regarding dementia have changed the ways in which the dyad is perceived, from the carer as victim to the person with dementia as victim. Across both approaches, a problematic dichotomy of two individuals remains. The concept of ‘joint career’, developed from Goffman’s ‘moral career’, offers an alternative approach to shared dyadic experiences of dementia. Using data from interviews with people affected by dementia regarding their experiences of dementia, this paper presents an account of the dyadic career, a patterned trajectory of shared experience. The introduction of dementia into pre-existing dyads entails the renegotiation of longstanding roles. As role transformation progresses, increasing difficulties lead to the creation of symbolic boundaries denoting the limits of the care-giver role. When those boundaries are encountered, they are often transgressed, and the dyadic career hardens as it continues, becoming work-like and less affective. This hardening of relationships is grounded in nihilism, apprehension and objectification.

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