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Pandemic sociomaterial bricolage: how vulnerable communities used social media to tackle the COVID-19 crisis

Fernando Pinto (COPPEAD Graduate School of Business, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Marie Anne Macadar (COPPEAD Graduate School of Business, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Gabriela Viale Pereira (Department of E-Governance and Administration, University for Continuing Education Krems, Krems, Austria)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 27 January 2023

Issue publication date: 9 January 2024

194

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001.

Citation

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

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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