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Innovative health technologies and the social: redefining health, medicine and the body

Webster, A. (2002) Innovative health technologies and the social: redefining health, medicine and the body. Current Sociology, 50 ( 3). pp. 443-457. ISSN 0011-3921

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This paper explores the growth and social implications of what are regarded as highly innovative technologies in health. Conventional medical sociology and the sociology of health have had a very uneven engagement with technology, apart from sustained feminist critique of reproductive technologies. More recent analyses developed within the sociology of the body and especially in science and technology studies (STS) have provided new insights into the meaning of health, illness and disease and the way these are mediated by and changed through technological development. Through an examination of recent work the paper argues that current sociological analysis points towards a qualitative shift in the relation between innovative health technologies (IHTs), the body, identity and wider social processes. These changes are especially linked to two increasingly related IHTs - genetics and informatics - and the ways that they reconfigure the social boundaries between the `biological' and the `social' and so between medicine and society. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for the future research agenda within STS, especially in terms of the relationship between the social and the technical.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: body • change • health technologies • innovation
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Sociology (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2009 13:09
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2009 13:09
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0011392102050003009
Status: Published
Publisher: Sage Publications
Identification Number: 10.1177/0011392102050003009
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5946

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