Societies2014, 4(3), 399-413; doi:10.3390/soc4030399 (doi registration under processing) - published online 28 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Information and communication technologies are not value-neutral tools that reflect reality; they privilege some forms of action, and they limit others. We analyze reports describing the design, development, testing and evaluation of a European Commission co-funded syndromic surveillance project called SIDARTHa (System for Information on Detection and Analysis of Risks and Threats to Health). We show that the reports construct the concept of a health threat as a sudden, unexpected event with the potential to cause severe harm and one that requires a public health response aided by surveillance. Based on our analysis, we state that when creating surveillance technologies, design choices have consequences for what can be seen and for what remains invisible. Finally, we argue that syndromic surveillance discourse privileges expertise in developing, maintaining and using software within public health practice, and it prioritizes standardized and transportable knowledge over local and context-dependent knowledge. We conclude that syndromic surveillance contributes to a shift in broader public health practice, with consequences for fairness if design choices and prioritizations remain invisible and unchallenged.
Societies2014, 4(3), 380-398; doi:10.3390/soc4030380 (doi registration under processing) - published online 28 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this article, we present a case study analysis of data gathered on the practice of the art of Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) in one UK context. Our interest in looking at this physical culture was in exploring if/how physical cultures of shared embodied experience and practice may help “sow the seeds of environmental awareness”. In so doing, we illustrate certain affinities between this interpretation of the art and Beck’s idea of a “cosmopolitan vision of ecology”. We present an analysis of documentary and interview data of one English Taijiquan organisation and how it currently promotes the idea of interconnectedness, wellbeing and an alternative meta-narrative for living through the practice of Taijiquan. We conclude that, while further research is needed, there is evidence that a cosmopolitan vision for ecology is emerging in physical cultures such as Taijiquan.
Societies2014, 4(3), 363-379; doi:10.3390/soc4030363 - published online 27 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The increased representation of minority students on the campuses of predominantly White universities in the United States presents increased opportunities for intercultural contact. Studying dating experiences across racial and ethnic lines has been used to determine the existence of a post-racial America. While most previous research has examined general racial/ethnic and gender differences in intercultural college dating experiences, this study analyzes precollege and college-going friendship diversity and skin tone as factors accounting for romantic distance between racial/ethnic groups among a recent cohort of college students. Hierarchical linear modeling analyses were conducted on a 4-year longitudinal sample of 2804 undergraduate students from 24 colleges and universities. Results confirm that White students continue to be the group most likely to engage in intragroup dating relationships, Latino/a students were the most likely to date interculturally, and that Black men were significantly more likely to date interculturally than Black women. For Black students there were significant within group differences in intercultural dating based on skin tone.
Societies2014, 4(3), 351-362; doi:10.3390/soc4030351 - published online 27 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Social cohesion in destination countries is an increasingly important issue due to the multiethnic structures in these countries and due to ongoing international migration. Union formation of individuals across different backgrounds can be seen as an indicator of social cohesion. However, this phenomenon is important not only in the case of first generation migrants but also for their descendants. Thus, this paper analyzes the determinants of intergroup union formation patterns of the native born individuals with a foreign background focusing on the role of parental background in addition to individual as well as marriage market characteristics. High quality data at the individual level, from Statistics Sweden, for the whole population of interest is utilized. The results indicate that parental composition is an important determinant of union formation behavior. Furthermore, there are gender specific pathways of the parental background effects.
Societies2014, 4(2), 330-350; doi:10.3390/soc4020330 - published online 13 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In recent years the smartphone has revolutionised lay people’s management of health and illness, particularly in regards to pregnancy and parenting. This article analyses smartphone applications, or apps, and social media platforms as mediating technologies which act as performative devices. These devices encourage particular enactments of subjectivity and technologies of the self which combine the expert patient ideal with ideologies of mothering. Some apps and social media can be disciplinary and invoke biological responsibility in various ways including the monitoring of specific behaviours via “push responsibilisation”. Apps claim to allow for greater convenience, connectivity, flexibility, efficiency, and what will be characterised in this article as the “tidbitisation” of information. This article suggests the ways in which health-conscious pregnant or maternal subjects are likely to view apps and social media sites as a means to improve and monitor their pregnancies, health, and their children’s development and health.
Societies2014, 4(2), 316-329; doi:10.3390/soc4020316 - published online 13 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The use of digital technologies and social media by people with serious illness to find, share, and create health information is much celebrated but rarely critiqued. Proponents laud “Health 2.0” as transforming health care practice and empowering patients. Critics, however, argue that a discourse of developing lay expertise online masks the disciplinary practices of the neoliberal state’s emphasis on individual responsibility. Notably, the perspectives of people who are engaging with social media related to their health and illness are under-represented in this debate. This research examines the experiences and perspectives of women who blog about their lives with Multiple Sclerosis in order to situate them in the context of these conflicting ideologies. Methods consisted of an ethnographic content analysis (N = 40), an online survey (n = 20), and an online discussion forum (n = 9). Findings revealed that blogging is neither inherently empowering nor inevitably disciplinary. Rather, it simultaneously offers opportunities for patients to gain medical knowledge and resist medical patriarchy, as well as compounds expectations placed upon patients to assume greater responsibility for managing their care.