Public Participation, Mediated Expertise, and Reflexivity: How Multiple Medical Realities Are Negotiated in Runners’ Self(Care) Practices

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research from science and technology studies (STS) has called for increased public participation and representation in science and technology that often challenges the boundary between expert and lay knowledge. While many scholars have focused on governance and formal interventions, this thesis attends to how laypersons participate in shaping technoscience of their own accord. Contextualized by a broader communications studies approach, the study’s theoretical framework builds on science governance discussions regarding the nature of expertise by applying the model of coproduction and the concepts of tinkering and care to settings of spontaneous, user-based participation. To access these settings, this thesis examines laypersons’ negotiation of multiple medical realities in their (self)care practices through the lens of two communities: the online social network of the website, Running Mania, and the face-to-face running group, the Red Deer Runners Club. The ethnographic methods include participant observation of the Running Mania injury forum and thirty-seven email/face-to-face interviews. The findings indicate that this collective running practice shapes runners’ reflexive understanding of medical expertise, which often challenges the sociocultural biases of the supposedly “objective” institutional framing of medical discourse. Running bodies are the site of multiple sources of mediated expertise that articulate with their caring practices: healthcare and medical professionals, running-specific social networks, and website/print sources. Within the running collective, lay expertise and medical expertise join to coproduce a hybrid discourse of care, particularly in settings of controversy. As individuals, participants negotiate multiple medical realities in the lived experience of their (self)care practices by tinkering with technologies, bodies, and multiple expert discourses. Using runners as a lens, the thesis demonstrates how laypersons participate with expertise as they (re)produce medical knowledge in their everyday practices. It also challenges determinist approaches to communications technology by illustrating the subtle ways in which processes of mediation are implicated in the sharing and (re)production of this expertise. Finally, it calls for increased reflexivity from healthcare providers and attentive experimentation in the enactment of “good” care.
Mass Communications, Sociology, Health Care Management, Public Health
Campbell, P. A. (2016). Public Participation, Mediated Expertise, and Reflexivity: How Multiple Medical Realities Are Negotiated in Runners’ Self(Care) Practices (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/27480