Communicative Ecology of Contraception in Online China: A Culture-centered Approach to Explore Discourse
thesisposted on 2019-02-01, 00:00 authored by Xiyuan Liu
This dissertation explores the role of new media for reconfiguring different components of contraceptive discourses and reconnecting different actors in contraceptive processes. Echoing recent literature, high rates of unwanted pregnancies and low adoption of proactive contraceptive use among contemporary Chinese are resulted from a web of sociocultural and geopolitical factors (To et al., 2012; Amaro, 1995). Consciously or not, Chinese people form and adjust their contraceptive strategies against complex backdrops of hegemonic sexual education, privatized medical services, cultural paradoxes, state population management, and gendered sexual norms. Taking a cultured-centered epistemological approach to health communication that redefines what communication and sociocultural context means to health, this study explores network discourses of contraception through three layers—the discursive layer, the social layer, and the technological layer. Results from content analysis, interviews, and discourse analysis, taken together, depicted a unique communicative ecology that is characterized by pluralized issue-discussions, stratified social interactions, and platformatized media engagement. More specifically along the discursive layer, this evolving communicative ecology of contraception features culturally- and socially-contextualized issue-discussion over contraceptive topics, digital storytelling of cultural knowledge, as well as negotiations between globalized health practices and indigenous socio-health traditions. At the social layer, network discourses of contraception reflect and remediate stratified discursive participation and structurally-decided social relations formed around contraceptive experiences. Finally, exploration via the technological layer leads to the identification of a platformized and decentralized new media architecture that fashions and shapes the discursive culture and conceptual norms of contraception.