Empowerment and stigmatisation: Patient organisations, gynaecological cancer and changing identities

Research project
Active research
Project size
3 150 000
Project period
2018 - 2021
Project owner
Department of Sociology and Work Science

Short description

Gynaecological cancers are often experienced as shameful because of their location in women’s reproductive and sexual organs. This stands in contrast to a prevailing cancer discourse of the empowered, optimistic and heroic cancer survivor. Patient organisations and other patients’

groups work to change how gynaecological cancers are perceived by improving support for involved patients and their relatives, and by influencing research, policy and medical practice.

This Science and Technology Studies (STS) project studies gynaecological cancer patients’ groups in Sweden and in the UK. Its aim is to gain knowledge about how such organisations challenge and/or reproduce ideas concerning what it means to be a gynaecological cancer patient and how they enact their cause (what they are fighting for). This focus enables insights on gynaecological cancer patients’ groups’ collective identity formation processes, including possible cross-national differences and gender and sexual politics involved. To gain knowledge about how patients’ groups enact their cause in practice, events and internal meetings are observed, key figures are interviewed and media material is analysed. By combining STS research on patient mobilisation with the sociology of cancer, the project aims to push a scholarly discussion of cancer patient identity beyond a dichotomy between empowerment and stigmatisation.