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Digital mediation of candidacy in maternity care: managing boundaries between physiology and pathology

Mackintosh, Nicola, Gong, Sarah Qian, Hadjiconstantinou, Michelle and Verdezoto, Nervo 2021. Digital mediation of candidacy in maternity care: managing boundaries between physiology and pathology. Social Science & Medicine 285 , 114299. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114299
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This paper brings together scholarship across sociology, media and communication, and human computer interaction to explore the intersection of digital health and the maternity care system. We draw on data (including interviews, focus groups, observations, and analyses of digital media content) from 19 studies involving over 400 women to explore women's experiences of using different forms of digital support such as the Internet, mobile technologies (apps and text messaging), social media, and remote monitoring devices in their reproductive journeys. We use a best fit approach to analysis, mapping our findings to the candidacy framework and notions of trajectory work to understand how women engage in digital health practices to negotiate boundaries between physiology and pathology and to enter dialogue with maternity services during conception, pregnancy and the postnatal period. We propose an integrated revised conceptual framework which explicates intersections between digital and care practices, and micro-level negotiations between women and professionals in the maternal health context. Our revised framework retains the dimensions of candidacy, but it introduces a precursor to the identification of candidacy in the form of ‘understanding normality’. It identifies distinct forms of digital work (e.g. information work, navigation work, machine work) which operate across the candidacy dimensions that women (and partners at times) engage in to negotiate legitimacy when entering into encounters with the maternity care system. Operating conditions (norms around expert motherhood; neoliberal discourses around health optimisation, risk and responsibilisation) provide a broader macro-level context, influencing the micro-level dialogic processes between women and healthcare professionals. Our synthesis highlights digital mediation as a useful filter to understand care systems, distribution of lay/professional responsibilities, relational practices and the (dis)enablement of candidacy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Computer Science & Informatics
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0277-9536
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 August 2021
Date of Acceptance: 2 August 2021
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2021 14:21

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