About this Research Topic
Recent scholarship on the social life of disease classification has successfully challenged the boundaries between infectious /communicable diseases and chronic/ lifestyle diseases, by foregrounding the salience of social determinants of health across this divide. There are, however, some overarching concepts such as those of risk at both individual and population levels, and technology as a driver in making certain aspects of risk much more visible that are particularly salient within the context of globalisation. The rapid flow of movements of technologies and knowledge through processes of globalization opens up the opportunity of seeing the role of social and political milieu in a robust way, and asking how technology envisaged for one context ends up being used in a completely different way in another context.
In the proposed Research Topic, we want to focus on the role of technology as a mediator of expert discourses, and in framing questions of risk and decision-making at different levels of the health system. We want to think of technology both at the level of upstream innovations and design and at the level of downstream decision making in the lives of providers and patients. In the papers that we will bring together, we hope to show not only how new norms are instituted but also ask if these are necessarily restrictive as conceived by Canguilhem in his seminal work, The Normal and the Pathological or whether these also open up new possibilities of engaging life and death.
Set in different political and economic (low, middle, and high income) settings, this Research Topic will include theoretical, ethnographic, and historical papers on: classification of gene variants and genetic disorders, the introduction of new diagnostic techniques such as geneExpert to detect multi-drug resistant tuberculosis; stem cell therapy as a mode of treating chronic diseases where risks might be disputed; and the use of a new technology such as ultrasound in pregnancy for sex-selective abortions. The papers will engage with how such technologies of risk, aimed at pre-empting and controlling the future, come at a cost of clouding the present and, at times, the prospect of enduring significant disability to avert the risk of prospective disease.
Through the diverse range of issues analysed across the papers, we hope to show how technological innovation unfolds both within the contexts of so called old diseases, such as tuberculosis, and new kinds of epidemics, such as antibiotic resistance. The papers will collectively bring to light the social milieu within which a technology might be absorbed or, alternately, explore the challenges posed to existing social arrangements through the normalization of a technology. Thus, we want to ask: what challenges do such forms of technology pose to existing power dynamics between different branches of medicine; or the power of bureaucrats to regulate pharmaceutical developments; or even to the power (gender/ age) dynamics within the household?
Guidelines for abstract and paper submission
· The special issue is designed to forefront the role of technology in the global context in determining the changing boundaries between the normal and the pathological. Authors are encouraged to think of normal and pathological through their own research fields and ethnographic and historical materials.
· We expect authors to think of technology in a broad sense including not only upstream and downstream innovations but also the ‘small tools of knowledge’ and ordinary artefacts such as documents, or material objects such as medical instruments, or objects in courts of law that actualize the authority of the law for a general public, or media objects.
· We are interested in papers that elucidate the relation between concepts and the empirical regions they are aligned to. We also welcome think pieces that reflect on policies or provide commentaries on existing debates on these issues.
· Although the formal deadline for the submission of abstracts is the 1st of February, 2018, it would be very helpful if you were to indicate your interest in participating in this special issue by sending a brief email to Sangeeta.firstname.lastname@example.org
· Abstracts should be between 300 to 500 words. Final papers are expected to be 7000 words and think pieces around 3000 words.
· If you would like to discuss any specific issues or briefly explore a potential idea, you are welcome to contact us (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Keywords: classification, globalization, risk, technology, knowledge, power
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.