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  • 1.
    Nordstedt, Maria
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Konsten att göra (sprut)utbyten: Sprutbytets betydelse i skärningspunkten mellan politik, yrkespraktik och människors vardagsliv2023Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The Art of Needle Exchange: The Significance of Needle Exchange Programs at the Intersection of Politics, Professional Practice, and People's Everyday Lives

    This doctoral thesis discusses how social meanings are constructed in needle exchange programs. For nearly four decades, Sweden has implemented needle exchange programs to prevent the spread of bloodborne viral infections. However, a restrictive drug policy and resistance to harm reduction efforts have led to limitations in access to these programs, both in terms of geography and through an exclusionary regulatory framework. The effectiveness of needle exchange programs in reducing the risk of infection associated with injection-related behaviour is clearly positive. However, there are limited scientific studies on the more socially oriented meanings of needle exchange programs. 

    With needle exchange programs as a physical and social place, the overarching aim of this thesis is to understand how the creation of social meanings of needle exchanges is achieved through time, space, and social interaction, primarily between the program's visitors and its staff. 

    The empirical material primarily consists of 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observations and informal conversations at two needle exchange programs in southern Sweden, as well as in the everyday lives of individuals who visit these programs. Through extensive ethnographic narratives and analyses based on theories of everyday life, resistance, time, and gifts, the thesis demonstrates that needle exchange programs hold multiple meanings created through interactions between visitors and staff. 

    Two concurrent and parallel tracks contribute to understanding what needle exchange programs mean to those who visit them. One track starts with a counterproductive regulatory framework where requirements and rules result in some visitors coming less often than they need to or not at all. The other track involves countless material and relational exchanges that foster positive experiences of the needle exchange program, turning it into a place of social hope and a changed future. 

    One of the thesis's most significant findings concerns the social work that takes place at the needle exchange program in the interactions between visitors and staff. These interactions also occur at the intersection of the norms and hierarchies of the drug world and the Swedish dream of a drug- free society. In the waiting room of the needle exchange program, negotiations are constantly underway to maintain it as a place of hopeful encounters, as opposed to a destructive refuge.

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  • 2.
    Nordstedt, Maria
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Gustafsson, Kristina
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    From experience to text: Issues of representation, disclosure, and understanding in ethnographic social work research2022In: Ethics and social welfare, ISSN 1749-6535, E-ISSN 1749-6543, Vol. 16, no 3, p. 274-289Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper starts with the ethical dilemma that appears when researchers end data collection, start to analyse the material, and construct the narrative of the thesis. This is the moment when the research subject might become objectified. Although this is a well-recognised dilemma, the aim of this paper is to investigate this in relation to ethnographic studies in social work in order to further develop some aspects of this “old” dilemma. Three prominent texts on the topics of representation, disclosure, and understanding are used in an analysis of two ethnographic observations in different social work settings. A conclusion is that the main challenge for the ethnographic researcher in social work is the fact that they often write concurrently about people in unequal positions. Hierarchies and power relations have to be part of the question about how to write without objectifying. This fact places the researcher in a position of ambiguity because they act on both sides, including both those who are in privileged positions and those who are considered vulnerable groups. Hence, the ethical dilemma not only includes the relation between the researcher and the research subject, but also inter-party relations between research subjects in different power positions.

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