Disputas - Jon-Håkon Schultz

Dr. polit. Jon-Håkon Schultz will on September 17 at 12.15 publically defend his thesis for the dr.philos degree in Humanities and Social Sciences.


Title of the thesis:

“Dealing with fear: Managing life-threatening events in different cultural contexts. An empirical study with case design using qualitative interviews and participant observation.”


You can follow the defence and trial lecture live stream (Mediasite) here


UiT follows the national guidelines regarding infection control. A maximum of 66 people are allowed in the auditorium during the defence, attendance requires registration for the event.


Trial lecture starts at 10:15 AM the same day


Popular scientific abstract:

Background: Life-threatening events come in various forms, affecting individuals and their societies by evoking fear. Collective dangers such as terrorist attacks, war, conflict, and natural disasters may create societal chaos and suffering. Children in particular appear to be vulnerable as regards dealing with fear from life-threatening events. Although most children and adolescents do not develop psychiatric conditions as a result of their exposure to danger, many do experience levels of distress, subsiding naturally over time. The research presented here explores how children and adolescents deal with reactions of fear, and how protective factors are present in different cultural settings.

Methods: Three different cultural contexts and types of experienced life-threatening events were chosen: female genital cutting as experienced in Somalia and in The Gambia, being a child soldier in Northern Uganda and experiencing a massacre in Norway.

Discussion and Conclusions: Each of the three cultural contexts has, in its own unique way, influenced and shaped the expression of clinical symptoms and the course of the distress. Such meaning-making is embedded in the cultural belief-system, which provides a cognitive template for assigning meaning when a traumatic event has triggered reactions and a need for explanations. When reactions can be attributed, the cultural belief-system provides a behavioral template for the individual to take action and activate help-seeking behavior, and for society to activate support. This process leads to integration of the traumatic memories, and closure. The disruptive force of the life-threatening event is corrected as the individual returns to a state of a (new) normal. However, when the cultural meaning systems and support systems are distinctive rather than universal, support may become culturally encoded, with its supportive power being stronger within the given culture.


The thesis is published and available in Munin. 


Evaluation committee:

  •   Professor emeritus Piers Vitebsky, Scott Polar Institute, University of Cambridge.
  •   Associate Professor Ragnhild Dybdahl, OsloMet & University of Bergen
  •   Professor Jennifer Hays, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.  


Leader of the public defence:

Head of department Anne Britt Flemmen, Department of Social Sciences

If you have any questions for the candidate during the public defence "Opposition ex auditorio", please send an e-mail to the leader of the public defence. (anne.britt.flemmen@uit.no)

When: 17. September 2021 at 12.15–15.30
Where: TEO-H1 1.836-AUD2
Location / Campus: Digital, Tromsø
Target group: Employees, Students, Guests, Invited
Contact: Michael Sverdrup Stenberg
E-mail: michael.s.stenberg@uit.no

Deadline: 17.09.2021
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