To be able to understand young people’s perspectives of being targeted by preventive health initiatives or treated in medical care it is important to pay attention to and interpret their actions when they participate. Also important is to understand the interactive process between young people, practitioners, technology and measurements.
In this paper I present an ethnographic study of state-financed orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances for young people in which I have used several methods for understanding young people’s perspectives. The aim has been to understand how divergences and norms are done in practice and how young people make meaning of the intervention. First of all, video-recordings and participant observations of three activities that precede a possible treatment have been used. Secondly, the young patients have kept video diaries throughout three different periods during the first year of treatment, starting on the very day they got braces.
First of all, the analysis shows that visualizations of divergences and of the future bite constitute an incentive for young people to desire “exceptional normal” bites. Secondly, according to Fox (2012), body technologies de-territorialize bodies from physical limitations, in the case of orthodontics, from physical “defects”. But they also apply new limits to the body, that is, territorialize the body. The “braces bearers” in the study describe in their video diaries the braces as accessories that make them feel more secure and less ashamed for their smile. At the same time the technology brings them into an ordeal which makes them put lots of work into handling the apparatus and side-effects.
Encounters between Nordic health, welfare and the global: Challenges and possibilities. Nordiskt Nätverk för Humanistisk-Samhällsvetenskaplig Hälsoforskning, Bergen, Norge, 4-5 maj 2015.