BSA Conference 2011
I gave my presentation on Wednesday at the ongoing annual conference of the British Sociological Association at LSE, London -great experience!
My presentation was in one of the sessions of the Medicine, Health and Illness stream and followed a panel on Telemedicine. Largely by coincidence, it fitted pretty well with the other presentations and the overall discussion -they were about use of technology by the healthcare system, mine was about use of technologies by patiens (or rather, “health consumers”) themselves. The reflective perspective of the panel made the whole session very interesting, with a very well balanced mix of theoretical reflection and empirical evidence.
Here follows a short summary of my presentation, which was on “Studying eating disorders in the social web: an online ethnography with social network analysis”, and was co-authored with my usual Ana-Mia team (Antonio A. Casilli, Christèle Fraïssé, Estelle Masson, Lise Mounier, Juliette Rouchier).
I have first introduced the topic, those online websites, blogs and forums advocating anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (“pro-ana” and “pro-mia”) which represent a challenge for health practitioners and policy makers. While glorifying eating disorders as a lifestyle and even a choice, the authors of these websites often provide fellow sufferers with distinctive forms of emotional and practical support, and may thus appeal to many.
I gave some elements to introduce our project addressing the role of online and offline social networks in the spread and maintenance of eating disorders. We conduct a sociological comparative study of ana-mia subjects in France and the United Kingdom, with focus on the impact on health and nutrition of computer-mediated communication networks rather than face-to-face social interactions.
I presented the fieldwork methodology and some (very!) preliminary results. An online survey, currently in the field, invites users of ana-mia websites to provide information on their online and offline personal networks as well as their health-advice network, together with control questions on their eating behaviours, health status and IT usage. Network information is elicited through a computer-based participant-aided network drawing tool, through which respondents represent the entire set of their relationships to others as they see it, and obtain an optimised visualisation at the end. The well-acknowledged appeal of sociograms is used here to improve survey experience and –indirectly- to enhance data quality. The survey is followed by in-depth interviews (just started!) to better understand the reasons underlying relational and health behaviours.
The response rate is quite satisfactory so far, and we are happy that many respondents have found the study worth taking part in, and potentially useful.
I finally hinted at the potential policy implications and, last but not least, the possibility to extend our methodology to other fields of study in the social determinants of health.
The conference continues -and I am now enjoying the rest of the presentations!
Filed under: Consumer behaviour, Social networks, Socioeconomic studies of health | 1 Comment
Tags: Eating behaviors, Eating disorders, Food choices, Network Analysis, Pro-ana and pro-mia websites, Web-based social networks
I am an economic sociologist with interest in social networks and their impact on markets, organisations, consumer choice and health.
My research also includes work in social science methodology and data.
- Get to know the new UK Data Service for social & economic sciences: esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-gu… #data @UKDataService 2 weeks ago
- @philmikejones good, see you tomorrow! 1 month ago
- @brainthingsmr with pleasure! I'll be around tomorrow until the plenary #britsoc13 1 month ago
- Good questions for our presentation on social support in online communities on eating disorders: thanks to all! #britsoc13 @anamia 1 month ago
- Just about to present results of our social network study of eating disorder online communities at #britsoc13 @anamia anamia.fr/en 1 month ago
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