Theorising Personal Medical Devices: New Perspectives
18th-19th September 2014
Post-doctoral Suite, 16 Mill Lane, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
Fuelled by the accelerating pace of technological development and a general shift to personalised, patient-led medicine alongside the growing Quantified Self and Big Data movements, the emerging field of personal medical devices is one which is advancing rapidly across multiple domains and disciplines – so rapidly that conceptual and empirical understandings of personal medical devices, and their clinical, social and philosophical implications, often lag behind new developments and interventions. Personal medical devices – devices that are attached to, worn by, interacted with, or carried by individuals for the purposes of generating biomedical data and/or carrying out medical interventions with/on the person concerned – have become increasingly significant in clinical and extra-clinical contexts owing to a range of factors including the growth of multimorbidity and chronic disease in ageing populations and the increasing sophistication and miniaturisation of personal devices themselves.
The aim of this symposium is to consider recent theoretical developments in the humanities and social sciences in relation to personal medical devices, and to address important gaps in understanding such as the differences between wearable and non-wearable devices, the ontological implications of personal devices for concepts of the body, the self, and technology, and the extent to which such questions may arise with particular force owing to ‘new’ technologies.
The symposium takes place at the University of Cambridge over two days, with the first day consisting of papers and keynote presentations, and with the second day consisting of further discussion and a concluding panel of invited discussants from a range of backgrounds including computing science, clinical medicine, technology, and philosophy.
The symposium combines invited and submitted papers from established and emerging scholars to consider how recent theoretical literature can shed light on current debates surrounding personal medical devices these and other important issues. Some of the questions that papers may address include:
- How ‘personal’ are personal medical devices?
- How new are ‘new’ medical technologies?
- What are the implications of personal medical devices for enduring philosophical dualities such as mind/body and self/society?
- What are the implications of personal medical devices for understandings of illness, medicine, and technology?
- How can the interaction of diverse theoretical perspectives drive new conceptual understandings of personal medical devices?
Dr. Steve Matthewman, University of Auckland
Dr Steve Matthewman is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Auckland. With research interests revolving around the fields of social theory, technology, and modernity, Dr Matthewman has published on a range of substantive and conceptual topics including mobile technologies, the sociology of electrical power failures, and the connections between Foucault, technology, and Actor-Network Theory. In 2011 he published Technology and Social Theory (Palgrave Macmillan), a leading and authoritative account of the complex connections between technology and the social contexts in which it is used.
Dr. Alex Faulkner, University of Sussex
Dr Alex Faulkner is Reader in Global Health at the University of Sussex, with research interests in the fields of Science & Technology Studies (STS) as well as medical and political sociology. He is an expert in the politics of regulation of biomedical technologies including cell therapy, tissue engineering, and medical devices, and has also published on issues surrounding cancer screening and regenerative medicine. In 2009 Dr Faulkner published Medical Technology into Healthcare and Society: A Sociology of Devices, Innovation and Governance (Palgrave Macmillan), a seminal exploration of the ‘hidden pathways’ which shape how medical technology moves from lab bench to bedside.
Professor Nick Fox, University of Sheffield
Prof. Nick Fox is a Professor in the Section of Public Health, University of Sheffield. His work in sociology addresses a number of key issues in the study of social processes in health and health care, ranging from work on the impact of the internet on professionals and patients to more recent research on the governance of health technologies and the relationship between identity, embodiment, and health. Professor Fox’s celebrated 2012 book The Body (Polity) draws on Deleuze and Guattari and summarises his anti-humanist, post-structuralist approach to embodiment.
Delegates can register at the address below. The registration fee of £15 includes refreshments and lunches on both days, and a drinks reception on the evening of the first day. Please note that there are limited spaces available.