Unequal Consumers: consumerist healthcare technologies and their creation of new inequalities

Laura M. Visser, Inge L. Bleijenbergh, Yvonne W.M. Benschop, Allard C.R. van Riel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines how consumerist technology creates new inequalities among patients in healthcare. More specifically, we analyse a communication technology that presents a case of consumerization of patients. Using critical diversity literature, we theorize how consumerism embedded in technology assumes a ‘universal individual’, creating a tension for healthcare professionals between acknowledging differences among patients while aiming for equal treatment of all patients. Based on our empirical analysis of so-called personal online health communities, we explore, at the micro level, how healthcare professionals deal with this tension. We identify four different practices: lacking awareness of differences, downplaying differences, discomfort around acknowledging differences and actively accommodating differences. We theorize how they ultimately all create new inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1044
Number of pages20
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • consumerism
  • healthcare
  • inequality
  • technology

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