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Embodiment and Agency through Self-tracking Practices of People Living with Diabetes

Metric Culture

ISBN: 978-1-78743-290-1, eISBN: 978-1-78743-289-5

Publication date: 24 September 2018


Drawing on ethnographic observations of diabetes (self-)management in French-speaking Switzerland and semi-structured interviews with healthcare practitioners, people living with diabetes and their relatives, the chapter aims at shedding light on self-tracking practices of people living with diabetes. It explores the ways people with diabetes measure and learn to recognise body symptoms of hypo- and hyperglycaemia through self-quantification, and act consequently. In particular, the chapter investigates recent medical devices – continuous and flash glucose monitoring systems – that reconfigure the work of health providers and self-care practices. It shows the self-monitoring practices and the resulting self-awareness people living with diabetes develop in interaction with technology and caregivers in order to undertake embodied actions. By pointing out that new technologies have facilitated the access to personal body information and the sharing of it, self-monitoring is also questioned as a form of surveillance, opening up issues of power and control over patients’ behaviours. With regard to this, the chapter illustrates that, occasionally, people with diabetes resist ‘docility’ through micro-powers at the level of everyday life by refusing to engage in their use and by developing personal strategies or ‘tactics’.




This research has been supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF 156509). The authors would like to thank the persons who took part in the research, the supervisors of the project – Professor Michèle Grossen (PI), Professor Francesco and Professor Bernard Burnand (co-applicants) – for their suggestions, and Dr Luca Chiapperino for the proofreading.


Danesi, G., Pralong, M. and Pidoux, V. (2018), "Embodiment and Agency through Self-tracking Practices of People Living with Diabetes", Ajana, B. (Ed.) Metric Culture, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 117-135.



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