SOC 371 Spring 2015 Science, Technology, and (Bio)medicalization

Cross Listed as HSCI371, SCST371
"Medicalization" is a term that appears with great frequency in historical and broadly social scientific studies of twentieth century American medicine. In brief, medicalization refers to those processes by which a myriad of previously {non}medical problems, once defined as ethical-religious, legal or social (e.g. drug and alcohol addition, shyness, obesity), are brought within the purview of medical science and redefined as medical problems, usually in terms of "illness" or "disorder". We will begin the course by attending to the history of medicalization and its consequences. Taking guidance from key theoretical works and exemplary case studies, we will arrive at an understanding of medicalization as a {technical} process, and modern medicine as a quite potent form of {social control}. We will then move from a consideration of medicalization to biomedicalization; from the management of human life to transformations of "life itself" by way of post-World War II technoscientific interventions aimed at "optimizing" the vitality of individuals, groups, and entire populations. In particular, we will consider empirical case studies of technoscientific developments that have made possible the work of optimization that defines biomedicalization: molecular biology, pharmacogenomics, biotechnologies, imaging techniques (EEG, PET, and fMRI), robotics, and transplant medicine, among others. Finally, we will attend to how processes of biomedical optimization have produced new ways of seeing, knowing, and imagining human bodies, such that biology is increasingly less representative of "destiny" than it is of possibility. To this end, the course will conclude with a consideration of speculative technoscience and the ethics and politics of human enhancement.
Class Format: lecture
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly discussion précis, science-fiction book review essay, class presentations, and a take-home midterm
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: preference will be given to Anthropology and Sociology students
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: PHLH Bioethics + Interpretations of Health
Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 20-25
Class Number: 3943
CLASSES ATTR INSTRUCTORS TIMES CLASS NUMBER
SOC 371 - 01 (S) LEC Science, Tech., and (Bio)med Division 2: Social Studies Grant Shoffstall
MWF 08:30 AM-09:45 AM 3943
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