• Line Østereng Jørgensen
  • Anne Katrine Bach
4. term, Techno-Anthropology, Master (Master Programme)
This Master Thesis takes its point of departure in a wondering about diabetes regulation,
more specifically the regulation of blood glucose levels in insulin dependent diabetics. By
talking to diabetics, to whom regulation is a part of everyday life, and to people involved with
regulation professionally, it became clear to us, that it is a demanding task to regulate
diabetes. This led us to ask the question that has formed our problem statement: With the
diabetes technology at hand, as well as knowledge of diabetes, how come it is still a
demanding task for many diabetics to keep a stable blood sugar in their everyday lives? From
there we started to look into the different groups of people that are involved with the
diabetics; the municipalities, outpatient clinics, suppliers and a medico-company. Once we
had an overview of the situation at hand, we began collecting empirical data on the practice of
diabetes regulation in the form of observations, diary: diary-interviews and semi structured
interviews. To analyse the data we decided to use Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT)
in a practice theoretical perspective, because of CHAT’s strong capacities for socio-materiality
and relations amongst other things. We then produced 8 different activity systems, one of
them the main system of the practice of regulating diabetes, and analysed them with different
CHAT tools. These tools provided us with analysis on contradictions and relations in and
between the activity systems that brought new insights on the practice. Through our analysis
we have found that with the development of the portable glucose technology, the practice of
regulation has changed drastically. It has become possible for diabetics to monitor their blood
glucose level, but at the same time created a more complex practice with many variables, that
can affect the blood glucose in one way or another. The historical development of the
regulation has afforded a change in the consultation practices. Earlier the diabetic would get
instructions on how much insulin they should take and what they could and could not eat,
now there is a need for competent individual guidance. Another thing we have found, that can
sometimes create difficulties for the diabetics, is when things in the regulation practice, for
instance guidelines, are perceived differently by diabetics or others in the diabetics’
surroundings. This can sometimes lay ground for misconception of the regulation practice
leading to judgement. We also became aware of that a limitation in access to diabetes
technology can affect the regulation practice. These findings have led to the following answer
to our problem statement: The practice of regulating diabetes is complex and there are many
elements that affect it. Hence to be able to control the regulation to perfection would mean
that the diabetics had to focus on all these elements the whole time. This is not possible, when
a life is to be lived alongside the disease, which is why the regulation process has to merge
into the daily activities and other practices of the diabetic. Some of the daily activities merge
well with the regulation practice, others less so, which can make regulation a difficult task.
When the diabetics’ daily activities change, the practice of regulation has to follow, otherwise
they will disjoin, which can result in that an activity that went well the previous time suddenly
results in an unstable blood glucose another time. Therefore in spite of the progress within
diabetes technology and medical knowledge, diabetes regulation is still a difficult line to walk,
although we see potential areas for facilitation of the practice.
Publication date10 Jun 2015
Number of pages100
ID: 213946060