Agency and joint activities with people with late-stage dementia

Friday 8th of January, 12.00-13.30 UK time

Online talk by Dr Ali Reza Majlesi from Stockholm University


The link to the Zoom meeting is generated upon registration. 

From a non-deficit perspective, with this study, Dr Ali Reza Majlesi aims to demonstrate that people with late-stage dementia, albeit the limited resources at hand, are co-operatively capable of making use of various semiotic resources to form actions and achieve their tasks. With the analysis of video data from a couple of dementia units in elderly care homes in Sweden, the study will show how the agency of people with late-stage dementia, i.e., their ability to make actions, and to participate in social interactions (e.g., performing a task, responding to actions, and also changing the course of a current action, etc.), can be conducted co-operatively and with embodied support. Due to the degenerative brain damage caused by the dementia disease, a person with dementia gradually goes through a deterioration of embodied functions. The pathological changes include delimitations in the cognitive and communicative resources and also physical debilities, among others. The changes arguably lead to some constraints to interact and perform their daily activities unless people with dementia are supported by the environment. That is, their participation in social activities consequently requires collaborative support of others (e.g., caregivers). The collaborative supporting activities are often studied as environments where the agency of the people with dementia may be included, maintained and supported. By focusing on joint activities as part of caregiving routines, Dr Majlesi discusses how people with late-stage dementia – even unable to talk, or move on their own – still have possibilities to participate and use various resources in interactions (including others in their environment) to show some levels of agency. By using conversation analysis and with regards to multimodality, he shows how collaboration, the re-organization of interactional labor, changes in the structure of semiotic and cognitive resources and intercorporeality may give interactional space to people with dementia to show their agency. 

Biosketch: Ali Reza Majlesi, PhD. in Language and Culture, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Education at Stockholm University, Sweden. He conducts research on social interaction in both everyday and institutional settings with participants with various cognitive and communicative abilities. His research focuses on embodiment and meaning making practices in social activities. His interests lie in communication, health and pedagogical practices. He draws on ethnomethodological conversation analysis and multimodal analysis of social interaction. He is also a collaborator with the Center for Dementia Research (CEDER) at Linköping University, Sweden.