Disruptive illness contexts and liminality in the accounts of young people with Type 1 diabetes

Sanders, Tom, Elliott, Jackie, Norman, Paul, Johnson, Barbara and Heller, Simon (2019) Disruptive illness contexts and liminality in the accounts of young people with Type 1 diabetes. Sociology of Health & Illness, 41 (7). pp. 1289-1304. ISSN 0141-9889

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12906


We utilise Bury’s (1982) biographical disruption to examine young people’s experiences of type 1 diabetes. Our findings show that young adults adopted various ‘subject positions’ across different illness contexts. The subject positions deployed are intended to produce a particular kind of normal embodied identity unaffected by diabetes. First, participants concealed their illness in public spaces and challenged cultural stereotypes of diabetes to maintain a normal illness biography. Disruption was ever present and required careful negotiation to avoid exposure of illness in public. Young adults upheld a ‘normal public presentation’. Second, they resisted the medical system’s pressure to adhere to glucose targets asserting and maintaining a subject position of ‘independent and autonomous young adults’. Here, disruption was transient and temporary, present in the clinic but not always beyond. It remained in the background for much of the time until it was reinforced by parents or at meal times. Third, young adults acquired a ‘pragmatic subject position’ with diabetes viewed as complex but manageable, no longer a target for resistance. Frank’s (1995) ‘narrative restitution’ is adopted to describe the transition to life with ‘normal’ illness. We argue that illness experience was ‘liminal’ and reflected the subject positions adopted by young adults.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: chronic illness, long‐term illness, diabetes, biographical disruption, adolescence, qualitative methods generally
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
L300 Sociology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2019 08:49
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 18:34
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/38440

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