Article: Co-constructing Controversy

Madelyn and Noriko

Associate Professor and ILS Graduate Program Director Noriko Hara and current ILS doctoral student Madelyn Sanfilippo co-authored an article for the journal: Information, Communication & Society. The full-text article is available online through the publisher Taylor & Francis – see abstract below.

Co-constructing Controversy: Content Analysis of Collaborative Knowledge Negotiation in Online Communities


Knowledge sharing online has flourished within organizations as well as open online communities due to the pervasiveness of Web 2.0 platforms. This paper builds on previous studies of social construction of knowledge online and investigates how contributors in online communities collaboratively share and construct controversial scientific knowledge. As the general public participates in such knowledge collaboration, understanding the processes through which they contribute content and roles that they play is imperative. The authors conducted the content analysis of three online communities that engage in knowledge collaboration on the subject of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination, which is perceived as contentious knowledge by the public due to the widespread myth among parents that the MMR vaccine is associated with autism. The study's findings include that the content discussed is influenced by the purposes of the communities, nature of the tasks, and demographics of participants, although they discussed the same topic. The authors also found that the framework of knowledge reuse and knowledge co-construction sites is useful for investigating the content and roles that appeared in the three communities. The contribution of the paper includes the analytical framework of knowledge reuse and knowledge co-construction, articulation of the content and roles that appeared in online communities, and unboxing of discourses in three different online communities. Future research directions are also discussed.

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