From personhood to citizenship: Broadening the lens for dementia practice and research
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Original versionBartlett, R. (2007). From personhood to citizenship: Broadening the lens for dementia practice and research. Journal of Aging Studies, 2007, Vol.21(2), pp.107-118 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2006.09.002
Personhood has provided a lens for conceptualising dementia practice and research for over ten years. It has afforded the rationale and language for improving care and for raising consciousness about the status of people with dementia, as people, intrinsically worthy of respect. However, because personhood is essentially an apolitical concept concerned with psychosocial issues it may be too limiting. Citizenship provides another possible lens. Citizenship is used in cognate disciplines to promote the status of discriminated groups of people still further, to that of a person with power entitled to the same from life as everyone else. However, as citizenship tends to assume the self-cognizance to exercise rights and responsibilities, it may not be as appropriate for people with severe dementia. Both concepts are problematic then, taking too narrow a view of the human experience. For this field to develop over the next ten years it clearly needs a wider lens that is both inclusive of personhood and citizenship, but which also recognizes the complexities of human experience. This article reviews the relevance of personhood and citizenship for dementia practice and research, and argues for a broader lens that incorporates citizenship and sociological ideas about agency and structure.