Homophobic Covid-19 Surveillance on Social Media in South Korea

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

This is a six-month-long ethnographic project investigating how queer people are coping with public health surveillance on social media in Covid-19. It aims to understand how public health surveillance on social media has been formed and worked in discourses about Covid-19, which resembles the homophobic HIV/AIDS discourse in South Korea. In doing so, the project will help various actors in the public, private, and civil sectors (e.g., queer activists, media industry, policymakers, public health services, and the general public) to understand and criticize how surveillance has been deeply entrenched in our media lives and cultures, in line with the anti-queer sentiments around public health. Specifically, this project will focus on the media contents that shape, reproduce, and challenge Covid-19 discourses and on the media practices that facilitate and resist surveillance of queer people in the mediasphere: for example, online news coverage on a Covid-19 cluster around local gay communities, online communities’ reactions to the coverage, and queer influencers’ social media contents on Covid-19 discourses. Through remote mixed-methods—including digital ethnography and networked content analyses of news coverage and social media contents, this project will answer the questions: How do public health interventions reshape the form of public surveillance on queer people online? What roles do queer influencers play as online communities, in reaction to such surveillance, while coping with the health crisis? This will inform broader understandings of the interplay of public health interventions and social structures, including power and identity, which is fueled and challenged on social media.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Jin Lee

Research Fellow, Curtin University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Jin Lee is a communication media scholar exploring the question of “How do marginalized people struggle to make their own lives across different media?” She focuses on media intimacies in popular cultures, particularly media practices and visibility of social minorities across the “old” and “new” media. She has published six journal articles and three government reports on various aspects of media intimacies and media ecologies, which appear in peer-reviewed journals including Media International Australia, Social Media and Society, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and government reports including KISDI Annual Report. She is a research fellow in internet studies at Curtin University, Australia. Prior to her academic career, she worked as a researcher at the Korean government–affiliated think tank Korean Information Society Development Institute.

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