Medicine creating identities

TEMA Medicin

Prescription medications do more than cure diseases. They also carry with them ideas about what a ‘healthy’ person is: how they should spend their days and their nights, how they should behave, feel and look like. In this project, we are studying how medicines prescribe identities for us.

This project explores cultural meanings and expectations associated with four prescription medicines. It compares policy and practice around their uses in two European countries, Sweden and Great Britain. We are exploring the HPV vaccination (against cervical cancers), hormone therapies for adolescents, treatments for benign prostate hyperplasia, and medicine against Alzheimer’s. The project’s aim is to understand how ‘healthy’ individuals are prescribed, defined and identified by pharmaceuticals.

Methodologically, the project uses several different qualitative approaches: discourse analysis of commercial literature, policy documents and patient organization material; observations from the field; interviews with decision makers, medical practitioners, and patient representatives.

The project has been conducted at three different academic sites: Technology and Social Change, Linköping University; Gender Studies, Linköping University; and Sociology, Lancaster University. This approach has allowed us to easily combine perspectives from STS (Science, Technology and Society) with feminist science studies and posthumanist studies.

Project Title: Prescriptive Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals and ‘Healthy’ Subjectivities Funder: European Research Council Starting Grant

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