Recognition as care: a longitudinal study of Arabic immigrants’ experiences of diabetes training in Denmark

Nanna Ahlmark, Susan Reynolds Whyte, Janneke Harting, Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    This longitudinal study provides critical insight into the social processes of municipal diabetes training for Arabic-speaking immigrants in Denmark focusing on participants’ experiences. Our study builds on observations of three diabetes courses and 36 interviews with participants at the start of, immediately following or 30–36 months after the courses. Lifestyle change and responsibility were dominant messages in the courses; over time and depending on their daily social context, participants selectively accepted and incorporated these messages. However, in retrospect, participants highlighted other meaningful benefits; these centred on reducing isolation and being met on their own terms regarding language and logistics. Most importantly, they remembered when treated with attention and respect by professionals and the mutual acknowledgement between participants. We use Axel Honneth’s notions of rights-based and solidarity-based recognition to analyse what was at stake in these experiences, and we engage Annemarie Mol’s concept of a logic of care to show how recognition unfolded practically during the training. We propose that participants’ wider social context and experiences of misrecognition situated the training experiences concerned with recognition. We also show exceptions. The sociality, which for some generated solidarity-based recognition, felt intimidating for others. We argue that the silent processes of recognition in the diabetes training carried significant meaning for participants, and that over time, many highlighted these as benefits rather than lifestyle change and responsibility.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCritical Public Health
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)118-132
    Publication statusPublished - 14. Mar 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Published online: 09 Sep 2014


    • diabetes training
    • immigrants
    • recognition


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