1st Edition

Breathlessness and Biosociality An Ethnographic Perspective on Living with Lung Disease in Later Life

By Fredrik Nyman Copyright 2025
    280 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book delves into the intricate landscape of respiratory diseases among older people, shedding light on their biosocial encounters while grappling with chronic breathlessness. While respiratory ailments predominantly afflict older people, often stemming from lifestyle choices like smoking, contemporary factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating air pollution further exacerbate respiratory health challenges. Rooted in ethnographic research conducted in the UK, the narrative intricately captures the quotidian struggles associated with abnormal breathing—an aspect typically overlooked despite its indispensability to life. Through poignant accounts, the book elucidates the profound transformations engendered by medical diagnoses, delving into their ripple effects on personal relationships and social engagements, while also offering insights into coping mechanisms. Chapters traverse the contours of patient identity, societal perceptions, community healthcare dynamics, advocacy endeavours, and the intrinsic link between health and human rights. Notably, the author delves into the pivotal role of support groups such as Breathe Easy, the empowering realm of ‘self-help’, and the organic formation of communities to address diverse social needs. With its multidisciplinary approach, this book appeals to a broad spectrum of scholars spanning anthropology, sociology, gerontology, and public health, offering a rich tapestry of insights into the intricate interplay between health, society, and individual experiences.

    1. Making the Invisible Visible; 2. Breathe Easy and the Making of a Support Group Network; 3. The Forms and Functions of Breathe Easy Support Groups; 4. Breathe Easy and Patient Advocacy in Tyneside; 5. Biosociality: A Postmodern Argument; 6. A Pandemic of Breathlessness; 7. Epilogues: Meaning, Importance, Relevance


    Fredrik Nyman is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden, where he specialises in the interconnection between public health and social work. He has a PhD in Anthropology from Durham University, UK and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance HE). This book is based on his doctoral dissertation.