Accepted paper:

What can research into chronic illness gain from a digital methods perspective? Type 2 diabetes as case study


Adrian Bertoli (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Today no study of chronic illness in contemporary society is complete without the inclusion of the digital, yet qualitative research in the field is slow to embrace new methods, instead continuing with existing methods imported onto the web, such as online/virtual ethnography. Deploying STS methods, particularly the theories, concepts and tools of digital methods used in controversy/issue analysis, affords the opportunity to be reflexive about; the limitations of 'virtual' methods, our object of study, and relations between researchers and researched when studying chronic illness in today's world. At the same time, we can open a dialogue with researchers in the field of medical sociology, anthropology as well as health care practitioners to create collaborative opportunities. Chronic illness today is digitally mediated in a number of ways, and this paper will present examples of how search engine results and hyperlink network visualizations created from them can be treated as data used to gain insights into the state of type 2 diabetes according to the range of actors, documents, and themes presented. By putting digital devices and traces center stage, we can show how the results may surprise in new ways and make the case that digital methods add an important and up to now understudied layer to the narratives of chronic illness in the social sciences and humanities, that is the digital layer of contemporary society.

panel G2
Digital mediation and re-mediation: What prospects for a future STS?