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Blogs have been used extensively to self-document the intimate and often intensive experiences of living with serious illness, charting their author's health and treatment often over many years, connecting with others and drawing attention and concern along the way. This paper analyses a selection of typical ‘cancer blogs’ with the aim of understanding the kinds of personal investment, or labour, involved in the process of forming and maintaining them over a sustained period. Where previous research has investigated what is often seen as the ‘empowering’ role of these blogs, we attempt to qualify these claims. Our qualitative, case study analysis draws on and expands the theory and debates around the nature of immaterial and affective labour. We highlight the value of cancer blogging as personal, in the form of identity and affect management, network-enabling in generating online spaces for shared experience and support, and social in what is recouped in the forms of non-institutional management of serious illness. In addition, this labour helps to shape the broader social understanding of cancer, its experience and personal affects.
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Keywords: ICTs; e-health; social media; social theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Swinburne University, John St Hawthorn 3122, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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