This paper aims to use the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin to reveal new insights into the role and impact of social media in health-care settings.Design/methodology/approachWith the help of Bakhtin’s constructs of dialogism, polyphony, heteroglossia and carnival, the power and influences of the social media phenomenon in health-care settings, are explored.FindingsIt is apparent from the in-depth analysis conducted that there is a delicate balance between the need to increase dialogue and the need to safeguard public health, in the use of social media for health-related communication. Bakhtin‘s constructs elucidate this delicate balance and highlight the need for health-care providers that use social media to find the right balance between these competing communicational priorities.Originality/valueThis paper advances a nascent theoretical approach to social media research. By applying Bakhtinian ideas to consumer health informatics, this paper has the potential to open a new approach to theorizing the role of social software in health-care settings. Stakeholders in digital health will find this paper useful, as it opens up dialogue to further discuss the role of social media in health care.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 4, 2021
Keywords: Bakhtin; Carnival; Dialogue; Health care; Heteroglossia; Legitimation; Polyphony; Social media