Embodying health identities: A study of young people with asthma

Lee F. Monaghan, Jonathan Gabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Downloads (Pure)


The embodiment of health identities is a growing area of interest. Questions posed in this literature include: how important is the body in our understandings/experiences of health, how are everyday definitions of health and self embodied despite chronic illness, and how do social relations influence these interpretations? Mindful of such questions, this paper draws on a qualitative study of mild to moderate asthma among young people in Ireland. In-depth interviews were undertaken with 31 respondents aged between 5 and 17, including boys (n=15) and girls (n=16) from different class and ethnic backgrounds. Core themes included: the importance of play, physical activity and sport; diet/nutrition; and physical appearance. Asthma sometimes presented challenges in relation to specific domains, notably strenuous physical activity, though in many other respects its potential impact was discursively minimised. Attentive to various modalities of the lived body, we illustrate how health identities are negotiated among young people diagnosed with a chronic illness. Connections are also made with the sociology of childhood and (ill) health, which views young people as active agents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Early online date7 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Ireland
  • embodiment
  • health
  • asthma
  • chronic illness
  • young people

Cite this