Distributed and Mediated Ethos in a Mental Health Call Center

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Fernando Sánchez


This pilot study of a mental health call center clinician’s workplace tools, processes, and organizational structures proposes a preliminary theory of “distributed and mediated ethos.” A distributed and mediated ethos refers to how an organization uses various resources—artifacts, technologies, and processes—situated across dis­parate locations in order to expand and control their identity in the service of extend­ing their reach and capacity to render essential services. An analysis of a participant clinician’s rhetorical context flowcharts and network pictures shows how an agency’s ethos is mediated through various technologies. Findings suggest that a distributed ethos (1) projects the impression of being “always there”; (2) relies on dexterity across several human and nonhuman actors; and (3) necessitates targeted tasks from branches that extend ethos farther from the organization. This pilot study, thus, provides researchers of rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM) with a new tool for exploring the intricate and complex nature of health at a distance and other complicated 21st century healthcare delivery formats.

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