Samtalens Kunst

Ulla Jørgensen & Sune Lindrup

Student thesis: Master programme paper


This paper explores how a conversation between a citizen and a health care professional develops in a municipal health center, and how the framework of the conversation affects the outcome. Through observation of the initial conversation and interviews with its participants we will attempt to uncover to which extent the participants achieve acknowledgement and mutual understanding of each other through the conversation. Our analysis is based on the Theory of Communicative Action by Jürgen Habermas, and Axel Honneth’s Theory of Recognition. We find these theories suitable to our purpose because of their focus on the emancipatory development of the individual, which we consider a central part of the wider health perspective established in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion in 1986. We will seek to clarify aspects of mutual understanding or lack this in the conversation, and also investigate to which extent the citizen’s expectations or previous experiences from similar conversations can lead to a sense of mutual understanding or possibly lack of respect. On the basis of this analysis we will evaluate the advantages and disadvantages for the Municipal Health Center of this conversation. Our conclusion is that, despite good intentions of both parties, recognition and mutual understanding is challenged by the framework of the health center. We do not believe the health center is the best setting for health interventions where the aim is to achieve health improvements through participation and empowerment which we believe are necessary to enable the citizen to live a fuller and healthier life.

Educations, (Master) Master
Publication date18 Jun 2014
SupervisorsHeidi Lene Myglegård Andersen


  • Communication, municipal healthcenter, mutual understanding, recognition, empowerment.