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New Medical Technologies and Society: Reordering Life

New Medical Technologies and Society: Reordering Life

Nik Brown, Andrew Webster

ISBN: 978-0-745-62723-6 July 2004 Polity 232 Pages


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New medical technologies are increasingly at the centre of novel transformations in the human and social body. Whilst reproduction, health, ageing and dying have long been areas for technical intervention, the emergence of molecular biology and information technology raise far-reaching political, social and subjective questions.

New Medical Technologies and Society provides a critical introduction to the role and cultural significance of technological innovation in redefining the boundaries of medicine and the body, tracing this process through the figure of "the lifecourse". Drawing on approaches from sociology and Science and Technology Studies, the authors explore key issues, theories and debates at the junctures of bodies and medicine. In a style that is both innovative and challenging, Nik Brown and Andrew Webster open up an important examination of new medical technologies not only for those directly engaged, but for a wider audience interested in the ways in which contemporary technologies can be interrogated through core sociological inquiry. They argue that, whilst many technologies emerge from and extend long-standing frameworks of medical treatment, genuinely novel and radical challenges to our interpretations of embodiment are emerging.

The book will be essential reading for both students and scholars of the sociology of science and technology, medical sociology, social theory, genetics and informatics.

Chapter One Introduction: New Medical Technologies and Society.

Chapter two Science & Technology Studies: Opening the Black Bag.

Chapter Three Reproducing Medical Technology.

Chapter Four Maintaining the Body.

Chapter Five Substituting the Body.

Chapter Six Technologies of Death and Dying.

Chapter Seven Conclusion.

Technical Glossary.

References and Bibliography.


‘This is a timely analysis of the ways in which contemporary medical technologies are reshaping the human lifecourse, and indeed our very ideas of life and death. While pointing to the spirals of expectation and disappointment that run through all these developments, Brown and Webster show that new forms of life are being generated in which human vitality is enmeshed in novel institutional, professional, legal and experiential networks. The book not only provides a map of this emerging field, but draws on a wide range of sociological arguments to develop conceptual tools that will prove very helpful to those working in this increasingly crucial area.’ – Nikolas Rose, London School of Economics

‘An especially useful and thorough treatment. Brown and Webster demonstrate the efficacy of science and technology studies for understanding the myriad ways in which new medical technologies are reordering life.’ – Steve Woolgar, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

  • Comprehensive and accessible introduction to key issues, concepts and debates about the role and cultural significance of technological innovation in medicine
  • focuses on issues surrounding reproduction, health, ageing and dying
  • examines the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and telemedicine
  • lifecourse approach