This research was conducted to understand how vulnerable communities used social media (SM) tools to face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Affected by the lack of information and the absence of effective public policies, residents from slums in the city of Rio de Janeiro displayed new and unexpected uses to SM tools to tackle the health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
The research methodology consisted of a qualitative, exploratory study, combining a series of in-depth interviews with the analysis of various posts, containing videos and texts, extracted from SM during the first six months of the pandemic. The data were collected in the context of 10 different communities in Rio de Janeiro city.
In the context of the pandemic, people combined different uses of SM not only to inform themselves and communicate with others but also to articulate and execute fundraising and food donation strategies within vulnerable communities. Accordingly, this SM use is characterized by improvisation, learning by doing and building resilience, which are all constructs related to the concept of bricolage. Users had no specific SM knowledge, and adjusted these technological tools to emergent new activities in practice, which is characteristic of sociomaterial process. In addition to emphasizing the importance of context for the emergence of the phenomenon, this work also highlights reliability, validity and authority as characteristics related to the citizen-led participation approach that was observed.
Future research can develop approaches based on pandemic sociomaterial bricolage (PSB) aspects, which could guide governments and practitioners on building innovative solutions for the use of SM by the population, especially in emergency situations.
This study proposes a framework, termed PSB, to represent SM usage promoted by the pandemic context, which emerged from the triangulation of empirical data and an analysis based on the concepts of bricolage and sociomateriality.
This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001.
Pinto, F., Macadar, M.A. and Pereira, G.V. (2024), "Pandemic sociomaterial bricolage: how vulnerable communities used social media to tackle the COVID-19 crisis", Information Technology & People, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 374-398. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-02-2021-0135
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