Social Value Creation through Digital Activism in an Online Health Community

Petros Chamakiotis, Dimitra Petrakaki, Niki Panteli

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The study explores how online health communities produce social value by uniting individuals under a common purpose, to advance healthcare in post-conflict states. We selected MedicineAfrica—a digital platform known for creating social value by providing medical education in regions with under-resourced healthcare systems—and drew on multiple data collection methods. We found that it is through a unique form of digital health activism that social value is created in this context. Drawing on a sociological understanding of digital health activism, we make the following contributions: First, we identify three types of non-economic, social value: cognitive, professional and epistemic. Second, we indicate that social value creation is enabled by three emergent forms of digital health activism (i.e., philanthropic, moral and reciprocal activity). Third, we elicit three enabling mechanisms explaining how these forms of activism are technically and socially afforded through the platform’s connective capacity and emerging collective practices in tandem with its members’ growing commitment. Our paper contributes to the growing IS literature on digital activism by offering a framework that elucidates how digital health activism relates to social value creation. The paper provides practical implications as to how platforms can enable sustainable online (health) communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Early online date24 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jul 2020


  • online health communities
  • social values

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