Differences in Medicine

Unraveling Practices, Techniques, and Bodies

Differences in Medicine

Body, Commodity, Text

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 2 b&w photographs, 3 tables, 7 figures Published: June 1998

Medicine and Health > Medical Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology

Western medicine—especially in contrast with non-Western traditions of medical practice—is widely thought of as a coherent and unified field in which beliefs, definitions, and judgments are shared. Marc Berg and Annemarie Mol debunk this myth with an interdisciplinary and intercultural collection of essays that reveals the significantly varied ways practitioners of “conventional” Western medicine handle bodies, study test results, configure statistics, and converse with patients .
Combining theoretical work with interviews and direct observation of the activities and interactions of doctors, nurses, technicians, and patients, the contributors to this volume provide comparative studies of specific cases. Individual chapters explore topics such as the contested domain of fetal surgery in a California hospital, the construction of gender identity before transsexual surgery in Germany, and differences in the treatment and definition of pain by two clinics in France. Differences in Medicine advances earlier studies on medicine’s social diversity and regional variations to expose significant differences in the presumptions and decisions that affect patients’ lives, and marks a dramatic development in both the study of medicine and in science studies generally.
Revealing the ways in which the bodies and lives of people are constructed as medical objects by practitioners, technologies, and textbooks, this collection calls for and initiates new, more textured investigations and theories of the body in medicine and the practice of science. It will open new discussions among medical and healthcare professionals as well as scholars in medical anthropology, science studies, sociology, philosophy, and the history of medicine.

Isabelle Baszanger, Marc Berg, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Monica J. Casper, Charis M. Cussins, Nicolas Dodier, Stefan Hirschauer, Annemarie Mol, Vicky Singleton, Susan Leigh Star, Stefan Timmermans, Dick Willems


“An outstanding example of some of the best work done at the research front of the field and of recent work that strives to go beyond both technological and social/cultural determinism.” — Alberto Cambrosio, McGill University

"This book, as part of a ‘second wave’ of science studies, advances our understanding of patients, bodies, and subjectivities in much the same way the first wave altered our understanding of objectivity and experimental practice." — Bruno Latour, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines


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Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marc Berg is a researcher at the School of Health Sciences at Maastricht University.

Annemarie Mol is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Twente.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Differences in Medicine: An Introduction / Annemarie Mol and Marc Berg 1

Performing Sexes and Genders in Medical Practices / Stefan Hirschauer 13

Working on and around Human Fetuses: The Contested Domain of Fetal Surgery 28

Clinical Practice and Procedures in Occupational Medicine: A Study of the Framing of Individuals / Nicolas Dodier 53

Stabilizing Instabilities: The Role of the Laboratory in the United Kingdom Cervical Screening Programme / Vicky Singleton 86

Inhaling Drugs and Making Worlds: The Proliferation of Lungs and Asthmas / Dick Willems 105

Pain Physicians: All Alike, All Different / Isabelle Baszanger 119

Missing Links, Making Links: The Performance of Some Atheroscleroses / Annemarie Mol 144

Ontological Choreography: Agency for Women Patients in an Infertility Clinic / Charis M. Cussins 166

The Architecture of Difference: Visibility, Control, and Comparability in Building a Nursing Interventions Classification / Stefan Timmermans, Geoffrey C. Bowker, & Susan Leigh Star 202

Order(s) and Disorder(s): Of Protocols and Medical Practices / Marc Berg 226

References 247

Index 267

Contributors 271
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2174-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2162-0
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