Attila Bruni

Medicine as heterogeneous engineering and socio-material practice

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: heterogeneous engineering, relational materialism, medicine, technology-in-practice, technologically dense environment

For some years, increasing numbers of sociologists have set about opening the "black box" of medical practice and knowledge, in order to examine the interweaving between humans and technologies, scientific and mundane knowledge. Medical practice has therefore been thematized as a process of alignment and mobilization of heterogeneous elements (data, laboratory tests, doctors, patients, health facilities, political decisions, and so on) in which patients' bodies and subjectivities become entrenched within networks of technologies, medical personnel and institutional arrangements. Referring to this theoretical debate, and drawing on a four-month ethnography conducted in a Italian hospital, the knowledge yielded by the article should therefore be twofold. On the one hand, the intention is to show the relevance of Science and Technology Studies (STS) in deepening the sociological understanding of medical knowledge and practice. On the other hand, the intention is to offer an empirical reflection on the heterogeneous engineering that gives form and materializes medical practice, so to highlight the ecology of actors, relations, technologies, objects and situated knowledges that are called into action in the performance of medical activity.

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