Lauren Berliner and Nora Kenworthy publish “Producing a Worthy Illness"

Lauren Berliner

IAS faculty member Lauren Berliner and co-author Nora Kenworthy (Nursing and Health Studies, UW Bothell) published “Producing a worthy illness: Personal crowdfunding amidst financial crisis" in Social Science and Medicine.  The article explores how websites such as GoFundMe evince the political, social, and health consequences of austerity--along with fallout from the 2008 financial collapse and the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Using data collected from a mixed-methods study conducted from March–September 2016 of 200 GoFundMe campaigns, Berliner and Kenworthy argue that crowdfunding has the potential to deepen social and health inequities in the U.S. by promoting forms of individualized charity that rely on unequally-distributed literacies to demonstrate deservingness and worth. Crowdfunding narratives also distract from crises of healthcare funding and gaping holes in the social safety net by encouraging hyper-individualized accounts of suffering on media platforms where precarity is portrayed as the result of inadequate self-marketing, rather than the inevitable consequences of structural conditions of austerity.