Social reading for mental health

Lisbeth Stenberg


Social reading is a praxis that has gained renewed interest during the twenty-first century. In my research project »Social reading — fiction and health« I strive to throw light on if and how the use of group discussions of fiction can play a support- ive role in rehabilitation. In this chapter I discuss the results of my exploratory empirical studies of five reading groups, theorizing the processes of interpretation from a sociological perspective.

My results indicate firstly, that group discussions about a text inviting identification tend to result in a deeper under- standing of the characters and have the potential to empower individuals. Secondly, texts likely to raise debate rather than lead to role-taking open up for readers to try out new ways of understanding or judging characters that they originally feel unrelated to.

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