Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup

Anne Austad, Oslo

Profile Sheet | "Permanently Normative?"-Project

Published onAug 25, 2022
Anne Austad, Oslo

1 | Formal Information

Anne Austad, Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Psychology of Religion, VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway

Institutional website:

2 | Our project aims to reflect on values in school, pastoral care and other care contexts. What academic perspective do I bring to the project with regard to this focus?

I mainly work on qualitative empirical research based in the disciplines of the psychology of religion and practical theology. My main research interests are grief, pastoral and existential care and extraordinary experiences.

Values and normativity relate to all these areas. For instance, would care settings concerning grief contain societal norms of ‘good grief’? As psychological grief models are goal-oriented theories, strong normativities are embedded in these models. Further, as grief models are often picked up as everyday theories, both caretakers and caregivers will relate to implicit values, as well as other societal norms of grief. Bereavement care could be one case to investigate further in the ‘permanently-normative’ project.

Another perspective I bring to the project is our research on priests’ and deacons’ pastoral care practice in local parishes in Norway. In these studies, we found that the clergy bridge the divide between kerygmatic-oriented (traditionally seen as explicitly normative/prescriptive) and more open confidant-oriented pastoral care. Most priests and deacons in our study reported operating in a confidant-oriented paradigm. However, there seems to be a renewed realisation of the normative aspects of pastoral care. It would be interesting to investigate more closely what those norms are and how carers navigate between different and perhaps conflicting normativities, which could be both implicit and explicit. The increased plurality in society in terms of worldview and culture adds important aspects to this.

A third relevant focus is dialogical self theory (DST). I think DST could be one of many theoretical perspectives suitable for analysing and interpreting implicit and explicit values in play in care practices. As DST pictures the self as porous and multi-voiced, consisting of decentralised I-positions, it provides theoretical underpinnings to identify diverse values - and complex, conflicting value processes. I used DST in my PhD thesis, and, if it is of interest, I can provide more details when we meet.

I hope this project will facilitate a network of researchers, particularly in the area of pastoral care. As written in the previous section, I have some ideas to bring into the project, but just as much, I look forward to learning from others and develop new ideas together.




No comments here

Why not start the discussion?