Defense: Rannveig Svendby

Master Rannveig Svendby at the Institute of Health and Society will defend her dissertation for the degree of Ph.D. (philosophiae doctor): Becoming the ‘Other’ A qualitative study of power, masculinities and disabilities in the lives of young drivers after road traffic accidents.


This qualitative study explores the social realities of young drivers who had sustained injuries in severe road traffic accidents. It investigates their experience of the rehabilitation process, their social encounters with people in their surroundings, and their driving practices and identities as disabled after the accidents. The study is positioned in the interdisciplinary research field of disability studies, and draws on the theoretical insights of critical feminist studies. The fieldwork consisted of qualitative interviews and participant observation.

The study challenges the rather static notion of men as irrational, careless drivers by contributing an exploration of care and safety assessments among young, male drivers. Their ‘traffic safety agency’ is introduced as a concept to highlight that such an agency exists and to make this knowledge accessible in the discourse about ‘young problem drivers’. Stimulating young men’s ‘traffic safety agency’ and approaching them as rational, caring subjects may prove to be fruitful in future efforts to promote safety measures that they are able and willing to adopt.

The study identifies and explores a discourse termed ‘the language of percentages’. It refers to the use of numbers and percentages in measurements and tests that are part of standard rehabilitation procedures. This discourse might be understood to construct disability as a percentage of a ‘complete’ normative ideal, or 100%. The reality of this construct leaked into the social lives of the study participants, who felt that they ‘became’ incomplete when they were ranked as less than 100%.

The study investigates the discourse on what is culturally ‘known’ and not known about disability and terms it ‘non-disabled ignorance’. The autoethnographic account used in this study illustrates that when a biomedical framing is the main or only reference for non-disabled people in encounters with disabled people, ‘ableism’ is produced and maintained by ignorance.

Trial lecture

Tuesday February 26th, at 10:15 am, in Domus Academica: Gamle Festsal, "Understanding masculinity and the corporeal through feminist theories of embodiment and materiality".


Tuesday February 26th, at 1:00 pm, in Domus Academica: Gamle Festsal

Evaluation committee

  • Professor Andrew Sparkes, Carnegie School Of Sport, Leeds Backett University (1st opponent)
  • Senior Lecturer Tanja Joelsson, Department of Education, Uppsala University (2nd opponent)
  • Associate Professor Eli Feiring, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo (Committee Chair)

Chair of the Defence

Researcher Wenche Bjorbækmo, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Associate Professor Kåre Moen, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo

Publisert 12. feb. 2019 13:36 - Sist endret 24. juni 2019 11:03