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Sociocultural studies of biomedicine and healthcare in everyday literate lifeworlds

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Title: Sociocultural studies of biomedicine and healthcare in everyday literate lifeworlds
Author(s): Bellwoar, Hannah P.
Director of Research: Prior, Paul
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Prior, Paul
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Mortensen, Peter; Littlefield, Melissa; Hawhee, Debra
Department / Program: English
Discipline: English
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): medical rhetoric sociocultural theory feminist science studies feminist qualitative research methodologies body studies writing studies professional writing technical communication
Abstract: This dissertation uses sociocultural studies approaches to investigate the multimodal practices of reception that patients and medical professionals use in their everyday lives as they engage health-related information. People demonstrate their active uptake of professional writing through engagements with a variety of health-related texts, including technical texts, to produce knowledge and design their choices relating to their bodies and health. Following themes that arose during extensive discourse-based interviews with research participants, the chapters trace out three major concepts: a feminist and sociocultural approach to the analysis of everyday technical writing practices, the literate activity of the body including gesture in relationship to text, and the local situated practices of popular culture that inform understandings of medicine. These concepts are not typically under the purview of professional writing studies of medicine; however, by considering their roles in the everyday uptake of health-related literacy, we can see that these concepts do factor greatly into the production of professional texts. In order to understand and record everyday health-related practices with a variety of texts, a research study was conducted over a two-year period, which included interviews with 9 participants in 13 extensive discourse-based interviews, and collected countless paper and electronic texts. The participants ranged from laypeople to medical professionals (e.g., dentists, an occupational therapist, a nurse) and alternative medical providers (e.g., a yoga instructor, a massage therapist). The body chapters of the dissertation look at their experiences with health and medical systems, analyze texts they’ve engaged, both professional and non-professional, and analyze their gesture in relationship to the data they were discussing in their interviews. Using a interdisciplinary framework for analysis that draws on sociocultural studies (Bahktin, Engestrom, Prior and Shipka), science studies (Latour, Haraway, Kapsalis), feminist research methodologies (Kirsch, Royster), and medical rhetoric (Scott, Segal), I conclude that my participants chain together texts, bodies, people, and practices of their everyday lives in order to understand their own healthcare or to provide effective treatment to their patients/clients. These acts of chaining, or chains of reception, demonstrate that people can be actively engaged with the technical not only during their face-to-face encounters with medical professionals, but also in their everyday lifeworlds. I argue that in professional writing studies, if we adopt an orientation to and approaches for considering these technical practices as legitimate in the field, we can disrupt the autonomous discursive authority that has come to be associated with professional communication, and we can envision a field more aligned with everyday perspectives and locations instead of privileged actors.
Issue Date: 2011-08-26
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/26294
Rights Information: Figure 4.3 Copyright 2011 iStockphoto LP
Date Available in IDEALS: 2013-08-27
Date Deposited: 2011-08
 

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