Til bevillingsoversigt

Shelter from the Norm: Autism, Virtuality and Embodiment

Internationalisation Fellowships


The proposed project, Shelter from the Norm: Autism, Virtuality and Embodiment, aims to explore and analyze the experienced significance of online spaces, specifically as affording novel and important forms of social embodiment for autistic individuals. The principal question the proposed project sets out to answer can be formulated as: why are some online, social spaces particularly inviting and significant for autistic individuals?


The proposed project is expected to have a broad, multidisciplinary impact. In an increasingly online world, the results will have direct implications for the broad and interdisciplinary field of autism studies. This is the case both in terms of future offline and online ethnographic fieldwork on autism, future philosophical approaches to autism, as well as future therapeutic and intervention studies that will benefit from the insights generated in this research project. Moreover, the results will further develop the methodological integration of philosophical phenomenology with qualitative research, especially in relation to the field of psychopathology. Lastly, the project will contribute to the development of a richer conceptual framework for understanding the nature of online encounters.


Working with actual autistic individuals, the project will integrate philosophical phenomenology with qualitative research methods, specifically virtual ethnography.The project will, in a novel manner, deploy this interdisciplinary approach within the very online spaces of the informants themselves. The data will be based on online observations and interviews, focusing on autism communities online, primarily online forums, online video games as well as various forms of direct online communication platforms. This methodology has been chosen for its established efficiency at engaging in rich detail with the experiences and interactions of real-life informants and analyzing these in philosophically and scientifically impactful ways.


The project will have a direct impact for citizens and organisations currently involved with autism, providing a clearer, much-needed understanding of the experienced, social significance of virtuality to both online and offline life for autistic individuals. The project is furthermore expected to contribute to the design of future, more inclusive spaces both online and offline for autistic individuals. Lastly, the project will lend voice to autistic individuals, bringing to the foreground the significance of online social spaces for this neurodivergent group on the premises of their own experiences and lives.