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Discursive power and resistance in the information world maps of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual community leaders

Vanessa Kitzie (University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)
Travis Wagner (University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)
A. Nick Vera (University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 January 2021

Issue publication date: 8 April 2021

510

Abstract

Purpose

This qualitative study explores how discursive power shapes South Carolina lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities' health information practices and how participants resist this power.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 28 LGBTQIA+ community leaders from South Carolina engaged in semi-structured interviews and information world mapping–a participatory arts-based elicitation technique–to capture the context underlying how they and their communities create, seek, use and share health information. We focus on the information world maps for this paper, employing situational analysis–a discourse analytic method for visual data–to analyze them.

Findings

Six themes emerged describing how discursive power operates both within and outside of LGBTQIA+ communities: (1) producing absence, (2) providing unwanted information, (3) commoditizing LGBTQIA+ communities, (4) condensing LGBTQIA+ people into monoliths; (5) establishing the community's normative role in information practices; (6) applying assimilationist and metronormative discourses to information sources. This power negates people's information practices with less dominant LGBTQIA+ identities and marginalized intersectional identities across locations such as race and class. Participants resisted discursive power within their maps via the following tactics: (1) (re)appropriating discourses and (2) imagining new information worlds.

Originality/value

This study captures the perspectives of an understudied population–LGBTQIA+ persons from the American South–about a critical topic–their health–and frames these perspectives and topics within an informational context. Our use of information world mapping and situational analysis offers a unique and still underutilized set of qualitative methods within information science research.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Institute for Museum of Library Services (IMLS) and part of a larger project entitled, Examining Public Library Service to LGBTQ Communities for Health-related Information. The funding period for the project is from 09/01/18 to 08/31/22. The PI on this project is Vanessa L. Kitzie. For more information, the project website can be accessed via the following link: http://bit.ly/hiplgbtq.Special thanks to Valerie Lookingbill for her help on this project. Also, We would like to express gratitude for the community leaders who participated in this project. Your insights and candor have elevated our thinking, which we hope does justice in representing your personal and community-based experiences, as well as your knowledge, resilience and resistance.

Special thanks to Valerie Lookingbill for her help on this project. We would like to express gratitude for the community leaders who participated in this project. Your insights and candor have elevated our thinking, which we hope does justice in representing your personal and community-based experiences, as well as your knowledge, resilience and resistance.

Citation

Kitzie, V., Wagner, T. and Vera, A.N. (2021), "Discursive power and resistance in the information world maps of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual community leaders", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 77 No. 3, pp. 638-662. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-08-2020-0138

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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