Advancing collective communication design for fertility tracking

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2023-04-17

Authors

Call, Shelbey Rolison

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Abstract

This dissertation employs a design lens and grounded methods to examine collaborative sensemaking around fertility data tracking. I investigated how members of an online fertility data support group, Lilac Fertility Collective, made choices about their communication together and how their choices revealed the problems, techniques, and situated ideals that shape collaborative sensemaking about fertility tracking. This work advances collective communication design (CCD) beyond a theory of communication towards a theory of organizing in three ways. First, it illuminates how CCD is deeply tied to organizing because negotiations about communication rely on members’ shared understanding of their organizationality. Their fluid organizing led to disagreements about how to manage information, wield labor, and interact in accordance with the group’s purpose. Second, this work advances CCD as contextually grounded because members’ desires for interaction and their ability to act towards those desires together were shaped by their personal experiences of emotion, embodiment, and temporality. Finally, this work scales up CCD theorizing to the institutional level because members’ beliefs in how communication should be wielded were also grounded in their beliefs about and efforts to reclaim their agency against institutions of technology and medicine.

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