Lifestylisation of the social: The government of diabetes care in Denmark

Sine Grønborg Knudsen*, Peter Triantafillou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Since the 1970s, the public authorities of many OECD countries have emphasised the need for preventing lifestyle diseases and promoting the vigour of their populations. Based on the Foucauldian analytics of dispositive, we critically address some of the normative implications of the preventive interventions in the area of type 2 diabetes care. Through an analysis of public health documents from 1981 to 2016, it is shown that the government of lifestyle was extended and institutionalised by a reform of the Danish public sector in 2007. Following the reform, rationalities of public health policies sought to prevent unhealthy lifestyles not only through individual behaviour but also through the social surroundings of citizens. In contrast to the claim that we are seeing a retraction of state responsibility and interventions in the area of public health, it is suggested that we are witnessing an expansion in state ambitions expressed through a lifestyle dispositive. These ambitions are less about transferring the responsibility to the individual and more about governing and mobilising the social relations and environments of type 2 diabetes patients and citizens in general to make the everyday choice of a healthy lifestyle easier.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)775–792
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • chronic illness and disability
  • health policy
  • lifestyle
  • poststructuralism/postmodernism
  • Risk and health

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