Pop-up Maktivism: A Case Study of Organizational, Pharmaceutical, and Biohacker Narratives

Document
Description

The biohacker movement is an important and modern form of activism. This study broadly examines how positive-activist-oriented biohackers emerge, organize, and respond to social crises. Despite growing public awareness, few

The biohacker movement is an important and modern form of activism. This study broadly examines how positive-activist-oriented biohackers emerge, organize, and respond to social crises. Despite growing public awareness, few studies have examined biohacking's influence on prevailing notions of organizing and medicine in-context. Therefore, this study examines biohacking in the context of the 2016 EpiPen price-gouging crisis, and explores how biohackers communicatively attempted to constitute counter-narratives and counter-logics about medical access and price through do-it-yourself (DIY) medical device alternatives. Discourse tracing and critical case study analysis are useful methodological frameworks for mapping the historical discursive and material logics that led to the EpiPen pricing crisis, including the medicalization of allergy, the advancement of drug-device combination technologies, and role of public health policy, and pharmaceutical marketing tactics. Findings suggest two new interpretations for how non-traditional forms of organizing facilitate new modes of resistance in times of institutional crisis. First, the study considers the concept of "pop-up maktivism" to conceptualize activism as a type of connective activity rather than collective organizing. Second, findings illustrate how activities such as participation and co-production can function as meaningful forms of institutional resistance within dominant discourses. This study proposes “mirrored materiality” to describe how biohackers deploy certain dominant logics to contest others. Lastly, implications for contributions to the conceptual frameworks of biopower, sociomateriality, and alternative organizing are discussed.