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The Invisible Men (TIM)

1,3 million Danes live with chronic illness and some choose to engage in patient-led communities on social media to seek knowledge and share their illness narratives with others in in the same situation. Research suggests that participating in online communities with peers can provide citizens with chronic illness knowledge and care in ways that family and friends cannot. There are, however, a big gender imbalance in these online communities which are predominantly dominated by women.

In Scandinavia, we have a strong tradition of democratic participation and citizenship. A tradition that the ever-increasing digitalization of society both expands and challenges. The focal point of this project is to illuminate this gender imbalance in digital participation by examining why so few men choose to share their illness narratives in online patient-led communities, and what consequences this may potentially have in a digital citizenship and gender equality perspective.

Through individual interviews, the project seeks to explore the following questions:

  • Why do men choose (not) to engage in online communities for people with chronic conditions? And what do they do instead?
  • How (if) is the infrastructure and communication form in online patient led communities more inclusive towards women than men?
  • How (if) can digital communities become more attractive and inclusive spaces for men to share their illness narratives?