An IE Study of the Social Organization of Journalists' Work Practices

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Colin HASTINGS, York University, Canada
I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at York University in Toronto. My work focuses on the social implications of HIV criminalization in Canada. Under current Canadian Criminal Law, people living with HIV have a legal obligation to disclose their HIV-positive status before having sex that poses a “realistic possibility” of HIV transmission. Those who do not disclose their HIV-positive status can face criminal charges, most often for aggravated sexual assault, which carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

For those invested in reducing HIV stigma and problematizing HIV criminalization it is of great concern that people often become familiar with and come to know about HIV criminalization by reading news coverage of criminal cases. My work adds to a trajectory of research that shows how news reports typically strip the complexity from HIV non-disclosure cases and regularly circulate stigmatizing representations of people living with HIV, especially people from African, Caribbean, and Black communities who have immigrated to Canada.

My dissertation project is a study of the social organization of mainstream news discourse of HIV criminalization in Canada. My ethnographic research tries to broaden understandings of how HIV criminalization is socially organized by situating journalists’ work practices as part of the ruling relations that produce and sustain HIV criminalization in Canada. This means exploring how the work activities of journalists who produce news reports about HIV criminalization hook into the work of people in other settings (such as criminal law and public health) whose activities produce and reproduce the criminal-legal governance of HIV non-disclosure. By investigating the work activities that journalists actually do to process and coordinate texts from diverse genres, arenas, and actors into news reports my inquiry aims to enhance understandings of how HIV criminalization in Canada works, how it’s put together.