Crafting New Materialist Research Frameworks for Collaborative Response

2019-05-15T13:54:34Z (GMT) by Michelle McMullin
Complex socio-technical problems such as climate change and the opioid epidemic strain current conceptions of public problem solving. Practitioners, including technical communication researchers, need methods that address immediate needs while supporting sustained community and policy response. Drawing on new materialist theory, technical communication research methods, and participatory research design, I trace the 2015 outbreak of HIV in Scott County, Indiana, and the subsequent passage of syringe exchange legislation, to craft frameworks for collaborative research calibrated to the messiness of wicked problems. My study draws on analysis of publicly available documents related to the outbreak, and interviews with public health practitioners, and community activists in order to identify sensitizing metaphors, and map how different metaphors organize work. Mapping these differences, and the networks they create for policy-making, operational response and research makes visible the embedded work of technical communication. I hope my research will help scholars and practitioners work more closely and communicate more effectively with more interdisciplinary and diverse audiences, contributing to critical scholarship that builds better communities.