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Accepted Paper:

It's all just assumptions in service of capitalism: alternative epistemologies of information in radical health activism  
Emma May (Rutgers University)

Short abstract:

This paper explores information exchange in an online community of disabled and chronically ill leftists. This work argues for the study of information, misinformation, and disinformation through materialist analyses that examine how such demarcations are often in support of capitalist interests.

Long abstract:

This paper develops the concept of “poor information,” which builds upon Steyerl (2009) and Milan and Treré (2020) to describe the alignment of information and capital. The concept underscores how information is devalued as a result of its circulation, as its connections to economic, political and social structures are revealed through its travel. The study extends feminist media studies and critical data studies literature to examine the role of information within radical health activism, with attention to the ways that it is simultaneously understood as a means of survival and limited in its capacity to create change. More specifically, the paper explores how systems of value take shape in health information. Often gatekept and in the form of directives, health information in its common configurations is symptomatic of both the violence of the healthcare system and broader inequities. The study uses semistructured interviews combined with discourse analysis methods to investigate how an online community of disabled and chronically ill podcast listeners conceptualize information as a form of political and economic power. Through interviews with members, the study confronts the tensions between the inequities embedded in the values we place on information, and the role of information in movements for social change.

Traditional Open Panel P331
Political Economy, Historical Materialism, And STS
  Session 1 Tuesday 16 July, 2024, -