University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Research Online
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Dec 2021


Drawing on the chronic illness scholarship and identity theories, this paper aims to deepen the understanding of the biographical disruptions experienced by undergraduate students living with a long-term health condition. Data are drawn from in-depth interviews with six undergraduate (female) students attending university in England. The analysis highlights the ways chronicity and multiplicity come together to shape students’ health and social identities. The findings reveal three narratives of the Self: the ill Self, the determined Self, and the authentic Self. These distinct, yet interconnected, narratives highlight the complex shifts in the Self as students sought ways to ‘push through’ multiple (academic, health, social) pressures. Maintaining their academic and social engagement met with significant challenge, ultimately shaping the emotional and social lives of these students. The paper offers a novel contribution to how undergraduate students navigate multiple identities in the face of ongoing illness.

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