THE TINY WEIGHT OF EMPTY SPACE

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för pedagogik, kommunikation och lärande

Abstract: Purpose: The primary purpose of this study is to display the multimodal literacies embedded in how professionals deal with death and grief within two digitalized professional environments. One is a center for palliative care, in which death is at the center of professional practice. The other is a lower secondary school, in which labor is less often and less noticeably impacted by death. The focus of the investigation is on how analogue and digital intertwine and how knowledge is constructed and applied within a sphere in which being professional collides with being human. Theory: This study draws on the lens of multimodality (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001; Jewitt et al., 2001) to examine the ways in which routines and practices surrounding death and grief are distributed across modes and how they relate to spatial, temporal and technological aspects of the examined workplaces. Method: Qualitative methods, framed by the principles of constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014), were employed. Data were generated through interviewing members of the staff, collecting documents and written routines, and conducting in situ observations within the two examined professional settings. The data was approached inductively, with emphasis on emergent discovery and considering subjectivity and my role in the construction and interpretation of the findings. I analyzed the generated data through iterative coding (line-by-line coding, followed by focused coding) and used memo writing to register and elaborate developing ideas. Results: The findings indicate that professionals view death and grief differently in each of the two observed work environments and that they are required to handle these realities in different ways within the scope of their different work practices. Furthermore, the findings illustrate the intricate ways in which professional practice in this ambit is distributed across modes and involves multimodal literacies shaped by awareness, deliberation, and emotion. Finally, the results indicate that professional learning in relation to death and grief, is anchored to these multimodal literacies. Regardless of how the professional context relates to these realities, competence development in this ambit is based on doing, acting, interacting, talking, researching, and collectively preparing for handling death and grief.

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