SOC 371
Medicine, Technology, and Modern Power Spring 2017
Division II
Cross-listed SOC 371 / SCST 371 / HSCI 371
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Medicalization: those processes by which 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.” Part I: The history of the medicalization thesis; medicalization as a technical process; modern medicine as a form of social control; critiques of the medicalization thesis. Part II: From medicalization to biomedicalization; from the management of human life to the transformation of “life itself” by way of post-World War II technoscientific interventions aimed at “optimizing” human vitality. Empirical cases for consideration will be drawn from those technoscientific developments having made possible the work of optimization that defines biomedicalization: molecular biology, pharmacogenomics, biotechnologies, imaging techniques, robotics, and transplant medicine, among others. Finally, a consideration of 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. The course will to this end conclude with a survey of emerging issues in speculative technoscience and the ethics and politics of human enhancement.
The Class: Type: lecture
Limit: 25
Expected: 20-25
Class#: 3264
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly discussion précis, science-fiction book review essay, class presentations, and a take-home midterm
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: preference will be given to Anthropology and Sociology students
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
SOC 371 Division II SCST 371 Division II HSCI 371 Division II
Attributes: PHLH Bioethics + Interpretations of Health

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