Diaries (online or on paper) – starting in Spring/Summer 2020

How: either via a diary app (timeframe TBA), in a hard-copy journal, or by uploading text/videos/audio/photo files in a secure folder that I would give you access to.

To better understand the daily realities of what life is like while doing short-term jobs as a disabled person and/or as someone who experiences chronic illness, I am complementing interviews with diary entries. Although the title of this project refers specifically to work, rest, and disability, I am interested in finding out about the daily experiences of living (with all their complexities) with an impairment/illness, juggling paid and unpaid work, socialising, and making use of spare time. By having a clear sense of everyday life, I can more easily articulate the relationship work-rest-disability.

Before the start of the diary period:

  • We will have a discussion about what your preference is: would you rather use a hard copy journal (which I will provide to you) or an online, phone- or browser-based app (which I will help you install for free)?
  • If you use the app, it will be available to you for a period of approximately 8 weeks. I will only be able to use the app for a period of 8 consecutive weeks altogether due to the way the collaboration with the app provider will work. 

During the period of writing diary entries:

  • [I am hoping that the following features will be available for the app]: you will receive a few questions every week to help focus your reflections on various aspects of your life while holding short-term jobs. You should be able to create text, audio, photo, or video files directly within the app.
  • If you’d rather use a browser on a computer instead, there will be another option for you to choose.
  • If you decide to use a hard copy diary, I will seek to prepare a few questions for you to reflect on (just like with the app), written on one of the front pages of the diary. We will then decide together on whether and how you would like to receive reminders about the diary (in a way that works best for you). 
  • At the end of the diary entry submission period, we will discuss whether you would like to hold a post-diary interview.

Why diaries?

Diaries are helpful for recording events, emotions, senses, and thoughts lived during everyday life. While interviews are also very important in exploring experiences and perspectives on various topics, they only take place once, and under specific time constraints. The diary allows for more creativity, and immediate (as well as later) recording of events that have taken place recently. The diary also gives you the time, space, and opportunity to reflect and contribute at ease, when you deem something to be of note. Even the most ‘mundane’ things (which are not necessarily explicitly about work, rest, and disability) are very meaningful for the project. Through the app, I would encourage you to use either video, audio, photo, or text – whichever option allows you to express your thoughts best! Equally, if you decide to use the hard copy diary, please feel free to be as creative as you wish – drawings, collages, or anything else are welcome.

The focus of the diary entries – anything related to (broadly speaking):

  • how your day has been, overall and with particular examples (positive, negative, ambiguous, regular, unique situations)
  • paid and unpaid work: tasks, working environment, events, relationship with others, housework, care work, listening or giving advice, volunteering, etc.; are you able to completely switch off from work when you get home? How long has it taken you to arrive to work today? how long does it take you to prepare for the next shift and what does that preparation consist of?
  • disability: your feelings and experience of impairment/chronic illness throughout the day: on the way to work, in a meeting with your GP, while working, while at home, while socialising; has a particular situation eased or hindered your impairment/chronic illness and autonomy?
  • the state: your encounters with state institutions
  • rest and resistance – how you are spending your unpaid/spare time: how you are experiencing the time between job shifts, which activities are restful and which ones are related to paid or unpaid work; socialising; are you using any strategies to make the job or the conditions of work more worthwhile/meaningful? are there networks in place to support you? do you feel valued (at your workplace, in social settings)?
  • imagining alternative futures: what would make your life more fulfilling, if money weren’t a problem? or if we lived in a society in which we didn’t have to rely on wages to survive and in which disabled people would be fully accommodated.
  • what does productivity mean to you? 

If you have thoughts on the activity of keeping the journal (whether it’s useful, stressful, enlightening), please record them.

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