This week on the 30th and 31st of May several of us here at the Medical Museion will be participating in the Danish Association of Science and Technology Studies Conference 2012. The theme of this year’s conference is “Danish STS on Display: Sensing, Knowing, Intervening.” The original call for submissions can be read on the conference website. From the Medical Museion Adam Bencard, Anette Stenslund and Louise Whiteley will participate in the session “Materializing Science Communication: Embodiment and Aesthetics”, chaired by Thomas Söderqvist and Karin Tybjerg. Due to cancellations, my talk has been moved to the session “General track: health, ICT, and homecare”. Here is my abstract for the session:
Social networks have always been important for those dealing with chronic illness; the difference now is that many of these networks are moving to online spaces, thereby changing the place and medium for support. Social media become important because they form part of a patient’s ability or inability to manage their chronic condition. In the emergent field of using social media and web-based methods for research and research development the existing literature on the use of online resources for chronic care management can still benefit from methodological reflection on what it means to follow the actors online. This case study of type 2 diabetes (T2D), communication and identity issues provides the opportunity to reflect on the challenges posed, advantages and disadvantages in merging ethnographic and web-based methods to the study of chronic illness in online environments. Social media also link patients to other actors such as medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, governments, and researchers and provide avenues to give differing voices, representations, and performances to T2D. In this paper I will explore in what ways these impact how individuals, societies, and cultures make sense of chronicity through studying the emerging publics, communicative communities and identities that organize around T2D. An empirical example would be that as part of an aging population, those with T2D form part of an emerging ‘chronic’ public. This is increasingly becoming an important section of society due to its potential as a market for interventions in chronic care management. In seeing the world of communication develop from the patients’ perspectives by following them as participant observer, I will reflect methodologically on how these T2D communicative abilities and networks develop through different channels (blog, forum, twitter, facebook) and how this can be viewed and analyzed as biographical, identity, and management ‘work’.
Stay tuned for a blog post or two after the conference, and follow and join the discussion on Twitter (#dasts2012). I’m looking forward to an exciting and interesting couple of days of stimulating discussion!