Sociology of Diagnosis Workshop with Simon Wessely, Monica Greco and Tom Shakespeare (Cambridge 31 October 2013)

The Third ESRC supported Sociology of Diagnosis workshop will be held on October 31st in Cambridge, UK. Our three speakers will be talking about the politics of diagnosis and the potential of collective health movements:

  • Professor Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine, King’s College, University of London
  • Dr. Monica Greco, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London
  • Dr. Tom Shakespeare, Senior Lecturer in Medical Sociology, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia

Diagnosis can be liberating and restricting, empowering and dominating. This seminar, organised by Simon Cohn from the University of Cambridge, explores how diagnostic processes infiltrate the lives of ‘the healthy’ and ‘the sick’ alike. Contemporary forms of biomedical knowledge encourage people to think about themselves in new ways, making themselves amenable to medical categories and potentially altering social relationships as they draw on knowledge of their own biology to forge new collectives, both real and virtual. As a result, people with illnesses frequently find both support and meaning from others who share similar experiences, whilst specific-issue health movements can shape medical practice and government policy. However, whilst such observations are evocative, they beg critical analysis. In particular, how can they account for the ambiguity that frequently arises from many diagnostic practices, and the fact that diagnostic categories can, and often are, resisted or disputed? The main focus of this seminar will consequently be to explore ways in which diagnoses are contested, challenged and, as a result, politicised.

The seminar will discuss how diagnostic processes infiltrate the lives of ‘the healthy’ and give rise to notions of ethics of care. The political consequences of collective health movements are also brought into focus. Contemporary forms of biomedical knowledge encourage people to think about themselves in new ways and alter their social relationships as they draw on knowledge of their own biology to forge new communities, (both real and virtual) and reconfigure broader social issues relating to power and representation. However, whilst evocative, this begs critical analysis. For example, it is questionable whether this constitutes a novel development that is dependent on modern biotechnologies. People with illnesses frequently have found both support and meaning from others who share similar experiences and there are instances of specific-issue health movements shaping medical practice and government policy. The main focus in this seminar is the question to what extent diagnoses are contested, challenged and/or politicised. We ask whether the concepts of biological citizenship and bio-socialities have empirical validity and what we can learn from patients and patient groups.

Attendance is free, but you will need to register in advance. For further details and to sign up, please visit the project web site.

About Centre for Medical Humanities

Centre for Medical Humanities
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