9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Public Health, Health Promotion and Risk II Building I, 1E4

Engaging infoscapes in health - a perspectivist outlook on the lay mapping of health and medicines information

The status of information in the constitution of relatively autonomous lay universes in health appears to have been consistently subdued, either by a culturalist closure of such universes as impervious realms of autochthonous beliefs, or by a behaviorist cognitive engineering concerned with feeding effectively those universes with public health information. Substantially fomented by conceptualizations of reflexivity, sociological research on lay practices and rationales theoretically surpassed such reductionisms. However, the phenomenological novelty associated with an 'information age' might threaten such efforts. Its token medium, the internet, sustains crucial dynamics of increasing availability of information, but by that fact it seems paradoxical to conflate renewed research interest in lay engagement with such diluvial information dynamics to one medium. And while critical literature has engaged the potencial naiveté or normative deception of tales of autonomy and empowerment of patients granted at face value by supposedly widespread internet access to information, this conflation of contemporary infoscapes may facilitate the persistence of two reductionisms: it narrows the scope of sources of information people relate to, which might curtail the larger apprehension of how the juggling and landscaping by lay actors of diverse information sources and media in different health circumstances and trajectories constitutes an inherent mechanism of relating to, accessing and assessing health information; and it may also limit the scope of lay modes of engagement with information, and its sources, to its active pursuit. We would suggest the lay perspective on infoscapes perceptively organizes its outline juxtaposing different informational reliefs through different stages of awareness of the health conceptions and therapeutic possibilities therein depicted through different media, liable to be brought to the fore in changing health circumstances, thus providing multi-layered dynamic backgrounds for the incorporation or rejection in lay rationales of a multiplicity of therapeutic artifacts which commands for a lay ordering of its normative fragmentation. It is, therefore, an analytical exploration of the different modes of lay relation with the multiplication of health information and its sources that is here intended, sustained by data from an ongoing project following patterns and rationales of lay engagement with therapeutic consumables in Portugal.