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Managing precarity at the intersection of individual and collective life: A Membership Categorisation Analysis of Tensions and Conflict in Identities within an Online Biosocial Community

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2023
Issue number1
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)42-64
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date29/12/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper explores how individuals living within high-stakes precarious categories navigate their identity within online spaces. Using Membership Categorisation Analysis, we investigate how
categorical inferences are indexed by those individuals within online biosocial communities in everyday speech, as part of their construction of identities. More specifically, we analyse online
interactions of women who have been identified as carrying a BRCA gene mutation in an online biosocial community. Our findings show how (1) the online spaces participate in constituting and
sustaining a form of collective responsibility, where those who are within a high-stakes precarious identity category are expected to not only support and educate each other, but also monitor the
compliance to category predicates, and (2) the tensions and conflict in making sense of, belonging to, resisting and sustaining a category membership often occur when there are clashes with the socio-moral order. Overall, this paper’s contributions are twofold, first, methodologically, the use of Membership Categorisation Analysis provides an insightful analytic approach to identities, online communities and their organisation. Second, the emerging tensions identified provide insight into the complex ways in which online communities offer a forum in managing precarious
identity as individual and collective life intersect.