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Project Normavi

"Have a "normal" life in the experience of chronic illness, disability and aging: personal, social and clinical challenge"

The NORMAVI project, funded as a one-year starter grant by IReSP has begun on September 1st 2018.

Scientific coordination: Marie Gaille

Location : SPHERE, UMR 7219, CNRS – Université Paris Diderot – Université Paris 1 (

The project focuses on the wish of a « normal life », expressed today by ageing persons, people with chronic condition or with a disability, and on the promotion of such a wish by patients’ associations. It is also interested In the various ways medical teams integrate this aspiration to their own reflection and decision-making, and up to which extent they consider part of their professional duty to answer this wish.

The main objective of the project is to propose a conceptual and ethical analysis of the meaning of such a wish. It takes into account the criticisms elaborated on the conceptions of “normalcy”. However, it does not examine this wish for a “normal life” as if it was (only) a recommendation issued by medical professionals or the society at large. It intends to explore its meanings and scope for the persons that word it.
In order to do so, the project will assess the resources offered by various theoretical frames to define it to answer the following questions:

  • is a person always captive of pre-existing norms, be it social norms, family-norms, and so on?
  • Is it the desperate expression of the hope to be cured and of the impossibility to accept an incurable condition or a way to formulate one’s autonomy?
  • What is the relationship between the “normal” and the “ordinary”, the daily routine, the idea of a decent life, of a life with dignity?
  • How does such a “normal life” integrate the specific elements (medication, technologies, support and care) associated to the pathological condition or the ageing process?
  • Which kinds of know-how and professional competences are involved in the realization of the wish of a normal life?

Finally, the project will also foster a collaboration between philosophy and social sciences (ethnographic fieldworks) on these issues.