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From communities of Practice to Epistemic Communities: Health Mobilizations on the Internet

Abstract : This paper describes the emergence of new activist groups in the health sector, spinning off from internet discussion groups. In the first part, it shows how self-help discussion groups can be considered as communities of practice in which, partly thanks to the Internet media, collective learning activities result in the constitution of experiencial knowledge, the appropriation of exogenous sources of knowledge, including medical knoweldge and the articulation of these different sources of knowledge in some lay expertise. In the second part, it describes how activist groups might emerge from these discussion groups and develop specific modes of action drawing upon the forms of expertise constituted through the Internet groups. Activists groups together with self-help groups might form epistemic communities (Haas 1992), i.e. groups of experts engaged in a policy enterprise in which knowledge plays a major role : in the confrontation of health activists with professionals, the capacity to translate political claims into the langage of science appears as a condition to be (even) heard and be taken into consideration.
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Madeleine Akrich. From communities of Practice to Epistemic Communities: Health Mobilizations on the Internet. Sociological Research Online, SAGE Publications, 2010, 15 (2), 17 p. ⟨10.5153/sro.2152⟩. ⟨hal-00517657⟩

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