In 2016, 49 candidates were awarded a doctoral degree by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management. Please see the following list with summaries of some of the most recent theses. Search in NTNU Open for more.
Ingeborg Mikalsen Grønning
Syk eller bare stor?
Through four papers and an extended introduction, this dissertation illustrates the nature of life with obesity and how individuals with a high body mass index experience stigma and are defined as sick. The dissertation contributes with knowledge about how obesity and the work with obesity is understood as individual, social and societal processes. The first two papers are based on interviews with 22 informants who had undergone weight-loss surgery. The third paper is based on observations of an online weight-loss forum and an interview with one of the forum participants. The last paper is a methodical discussion regarding my experience while observing the forum.
Over the course of history, the view of obesity has changed from being a sign of prosperity to being seen as a deviance requiring treatment. In the Introduction I write about this development and how obesity is now considered an epidemic. The Norwegian state offers obese patients treatment in form of surgery or more traditional forms of weight loss treatment. The definition of obesity is interesting from a sociological perspective. In the dissertation’s theory chapter I write about sociological theories and perspectives that are all relevant to the analysis. I also write about the philosophy of science that is the foundation for this dissertation, the methods I have used, and the data material.
Paper one is based on some of the societal processes that makes obese individuals experience stigma and choose to go through weight-loss treatment. Paper two discusses some of the individual processes obese individuals go through and how the treatment influences their lives. The paper describes the informants? life stories and explores how these stories make the obesity understandable. The paper also discusses life after treatment. Although most informants do not experience the weight loss they are hoping for, they usually are in better shape, adhere to a better diet and go through biographical advancements. The third paper is based on the social processes that goes on in a weight loss forum when the participants share weight related confessions with each other. The paper discusses the confessional interaction that is taking place in the forum. The fourth paper is about my research procedures and the adversity I encountered in observing the weight-loss forum while trying to behave ethically and at the same time carry out good research. I consider the relevance of a change in the regulations for Internet research, where the researcher is given more freedom to consider which approach best protects the participants.
Thomas Sætre Jakobsen
Living in Transition
Deng Xiaoping China´s ascendancy into the “workshop of the world” is largely premised upon the supply of cheap labor from the countryside. The 277 million strong army of peasant-workers generally lack urban citizenship but retain land tenure rights in the countryside. The move of peasant into the city is commonly narrated by scholars through the construct of “transition”, where the rural-urban movement of peasants for work is interpreted «…to involve not simply a movement in space but an epochal leap in evolutionary time» (Ferguson, 1999: 4).
Taking the experiences of work for peasant migrant workers in post-Deng China as the point of entry, this thesis aims to illuminate how peasant-workers live within the transition. The thesis is based on qualitative empirical research in Yunnan, southwestern China, in the provincial capital Kunming and its adjacent countryside. The empirical materials - consisting of interviews with peasant-workers, their kin and neighbors, and observations – are the result of two periods of fieldwork. I draw upon practice theory to understand how everyday experiences are shaped within larger translocal relations, particularly the changing context of smallholder agriculture, and precarious urban wage-labor.
Through three articles, I illuminate how peasant-workers are compelled to invest their life-projects, motility and expectations in both smallholding and wage-labor, with variations throughout the life-course. Simultaneously, expectations and life-projects are not unaffected by more than 30 years of market reforms and rapid urbanization. The thesis illuminates how a generational gap between peasant-workers has emerged, particularly as the young generation dis-identify with smallholder agriculture. Yet, the generational gap is partly offset as both generations depend on the soil for sustenance and yearn for more autonomy than offered by low-skilled wage-labor.
In addition to the empirical contributions, this thesis aims to expose the limitations of the conception of work in Chinese peasant-worker studies. Based on Marxist-feminist theories of work, this thesis narrates the waged work of peasant-workers in the city and the unwaged labor of their kin at the smallholding are intertwined. As such, this thesis contributes with an alternative perspective on the rural-urban mobility of peasant-workers than offered by the construct of “transition”.
Ole Petter Vestheim
Nasjonale prøver — fra "tvangstrøye" til verktøy i utvikling av skolens praksis
In this research project, I directed the spotlight on schools in Norway who, over time, have achieved high scores on national tests. Schools scored better than anticipated on the national tests based on socio-economic conditions. The primary focus of this study was describing and understanding the characteristics of practices in these schools. What role do national tests have in the schools’ practice? How do teachers and principals approach their roles in the schools, and how is that reflected in their words and actions? What characterizes their relationships to each other and their surroundings? Is there something to be learned from these schools’ practices?
To better understand the characteristics of practice, I have chosen to build upon the theoretical framework of practice architectures. Practices can be defined as a combination of sayings, doings or relatings that are linked together in a project. As part of my fieldwork, I interviewed students, teachers and principals in seven selected case schools located in four different counties. In addition, I observed classroom teaching in order to have a better and more complete overview of the classroom practices. I have explored schools’ practices by zooming in and out on different aspects of the schools’ practices. This has enabled me to identify the different practices that exist and are connected to each other in ecologies of practices.
Through three sub-studies, I have found three main practices that characterize the practices in the case schools: learning practices, development practices, and collective practices. Learning practices represented in the case schools focused on the pupils’ learning, the teachers’ learning, and how the school as a whole could learn from their own practice architecture. Development practices show that the schools develop their own practices by distributing and renegotiating the inter-subjective space as defined in the theory of practice architecture. This intersubjective space exists in-between the school’s practice and the surrounding practice architectures defined as cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political resources. Collective practice is characterized by the ways schools emphasize cooperation and inclusion of both internal and external influences in the school’s practice. Collective practice is a balanced model of the schools’ practice between principle as the leader, teachers, and other external factors that might affect the activities in the schools. A major finding in this thesis is that practices in schools are interconnected in ecologies of practices where practices are connected to and must be viewed in the light of other practices.
The Dynamics of Sickness Presenteeism through the Lens of the Job Demands-Resources Theory
Sickness presenteeism, people attending work during illness, is prevalent, especially in the education- and health sector. Presenteeism has consequences for individuals, colleagues/patients, organizations, and society. However, presenteeism can also be a potential resource as work in itself is health promoting. The overall objective of this thesis is to explore the dynamics of presenteeism through the lens of the Job demands-Resources (JD-R) theory by studying presenteeism’s causes and consequences in addition to its positive aspects.
Paper I investigated the association between employees’ perception of supervisors’ attitudes concerning work adjustment possibilities and attendance norms. The sample included 1658 employees that participated in a nationwide study conducted by SINTEF. Positive attitudes towards work adjustment among supervisors’ influenced employees’ intention to attend work despite ill health and reduced attendance pressure norms. The paper discusses presenteeism’s positive aspects by showing that it is possible to be sickness present due to work adjustments.
Paper II explored the relationship between presenteeism and burnout among physicians. The study included data from the HOUPE study and the sample consisted of 2078 physicians from Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Italy. Employees’ who attended work sickness present experienced symptoms of burnout. The paper demonstrates the possibility of presenteeism constituted as a job demand, and discusses presenteeism in relation to the JD-R theory.
Paper III examined the relationship between work-family conflict/role conflict and presenteeism mediated by exhaustion. The sample included 545 physicians from Norway participating in the HOUPE study. Exhaustion had the strongest impact on the relationship between work-family conflict and presenteeism, supporting JD-Rs health impairment process. The paper address the additional value of exploring processes leading to presenteeism and not only its consequences.
Overall, the findings from this thesis highlight the value of considering presenteeism as a dynamic phenomenon. The consequences of presenteeism are multi-sided and the act of presenteeism should be acknowledged as complex attendance behavior that needs a tailor-made focus. Increased attention on the dynamics of presenteeism will benefit both the individual, the organization, and the society.
Linda Marie Dyrlid
Transnasjonalisme mellom stolthet og stigma
The aim of this dissertation is to extend our understanding of different dimensions of transnational labor migration and identity construction.
The empirical case of the dissertation is Polish migrant workers who came to Norway after the EU enlargement in 2004. Among the Polish migrants, the largest group of immigrants in Norway, the majority tends to work in a limited segment in the labour market. The thesis takes as its starting point the migrants own narratives, and aims to see how they construct themselves, and are being constructed by others, as workers in this context.
The ethnography that forms the basis of the study is the product of in-depth interviews with male and female migrants, interviews with employment agencies in Poland, and participant observation in Norway. In addition, articles in Norwegian newspapers have been selected to conduct a media analysis of how Polish labor migration has been presented and debated in Norway over a certain period of time..
The main research question of the thesis is: How do Polish men and women understand and manage their situation as work migrants in a Norwegian context?.
The thesis explores this, empirically and theoretically, through the following questions: What are the strategies used by migrants, when facing different subject positions in Norway. Which overarching narratives of migration and work life manifests themselves in this context, and what can they tell us about experienced possibilities for positioning and belonging? How do the narratives influence the way identities are being produced and negotiated in the Norwegian context?
The thesis identifies overarching Norwegian representations of Polish migrants and indicates how migrants' own production of meaning and strategies relate to these. It shows how migrants create their stories in a variety of ways, and, furthermore, how this variety not only reflects different aspects of their agency, but also terms, frameworks and categorizations created by the wider discursive formations.
Analytically the thesis draws on perspectives from discourse analysis and narrative approach, and furthermore argues for the fruitfulness of viewing the narratives through an intersectional lens. The dissertation shows how these perspectives together can form a framework for the interpretation of the ethnographic material.