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Health (London). 2019 May 10:1363459319848049. doi: 10.1177/1363459319848049. [Epub ahead of print]

Disengaging with the cancerous body.

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Aarhus University, Denmark.


In recent years, the organisation of healthcare in many welfare states is gradually moving towards an individualised and responsibility-driven self-care and use of healthcare services. Departing in this restructuring of care, this article explores how bodies are experienced and how care is sough, by socially disadvantaged cancer patients. Based on repeated ethnographic interviews with 10 socially deprived cancer patients in Denmark, the article illustrates that socially disadvantaged cancer patients often experience their bodies and move between feeling fine and feeling sick in a disjunctive manner engulfed by the practicality of getting through the day. From a critical phenomenological perspective, we argue that this way of being in the world appears counterfactual to welfare expectations of proactive attention to the body, and contemporary moves towards increased individual responsibility for preventing serious disease and monitoring the body.


cancer and palliative care; ethnography; experiencing illness and narratives; phenomenological approaches; social inequalities in health


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