Accepted Paper:

Shared aesthetics on living with incontinence  


Maartje Hoogsteyns (AMC - University of Amsterdam)
Hilje van der Horst (Wageningen University)

Paper long abstract:

Worldwide, 400 million people are living with incontinence. They often deal with it alone, and in silence, due to the stigmatized nature of the condition. Internet enables ways of living with incontinence in a more collective way. It is an important source of information on the topic and of (anonymous) contact with similar others.

In this paper we investigate how active members of a Dutch internet forum try to build a community around the topic of incontinence. On the forum, members learn from each other how to be open about the condition. This is not primarily done by discussing the taboo, but through gathering, sharing and evaluating experiences on the wide range of incontinence materials available.

A shared sense of aesthetics is developed related to these products and to the ways in which they enable 'having a good life with incontinence'. By having these conversations on the appreciations of materials, members jointly develop a sense of what this good life might entail for them. Simultaneously they alter incontinence from a private affair to a shared experience; to a condition that can generate togetherness.

Panel E1
Technological innovations in caring communities: New solidarities