Digital care labor in campaign fundraising for medical conditions and gender-affirming care in Texas : understanding techno-precarity
As an instrument of technological and socio-economic innovation, crowdfunding represents a recent web 2.0-based phenomenon that complicates the exchange in financial flows and fundraising through digital-mediated interactions between users and donors through fundraising campaigns in online platforms to cover different expenses. Though it is known that the crowdfunding industry generates significant global revenues, scholars suggest that users’ practices and campaign outcomes from crowdfunding platforms remain understudied from a feminist and racial perspective. Hence, this thesis combines concepts from feminist studies of science and critical digital studies to investigate the social disparities accompanying the platform’s dynamics and discourses. Drawing from a qualitative methodology with documental analysis and close readings of digital archives, my data collection consisted of secondary data from the GoFundMe website and 14 trending campaigns of medical crowdfunding in Texas: nine related to medical expenses and five related to gender-affirming care. Therefore, this work emphasises the relationship between the gendered and racial components embedded within GoFundMe’s business model and the experiences of digital care labor performed by users of digital technologies for online medical crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe in the United States. Crucial to this study of digital care labor is an exploration of negotiated sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff, 2013) of care and healthcare precarity enacted by medical crowdfunding campaign organizers and campaigns in the United States at GoFundMe website in contrast to the techno liberal (Atanasoski and Vora, 2019) and techno precarious (Precarity Lab, 2020) rationality of care and healthcare within platform business model GoFundMe for its users of medical crowdfunding. Hence, I argue that distinct sociotechnical imaginaries of care and health precarity are co-produced with practices of digital care labor performed by cis- and trans-users on which medical crowdfunding relies for capital accumulation. Medical crowdfunding platforms consolidate themselves as a techno-correction of care that supposedly mitigate health inequalities in the U.S. despite being dependent on its users’ unpaid digital care labor. The commodification of digital care represents the main sociotechnical imaginary explored throughout this work. Hence, this thesis argues that the expansion of techno- and material precarity are some of the material and digital implications of medical crowdfunding.