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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 - Local Biologies and Social Construction of Biom..
Lecture 4 - Local Biologies and Social Construction of Biomedicine - October 3.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Tania Li

October 3, 2013. Lecture 4 – Making the Familiar Strange: Local Biologies and the Social Construction of Biomedicine Reading Tips  Discern each author’s main and supporting arguments: TAKES TIME AND EFFORT o No shit  Work with these arguments: DO NOT DESCRIBE THE READINGS, WE HAVE ALREADY READ THEM!  Write in concise, focused paragraphs: ONE MAIN IDEA PER PARAGRAPH  Keep your writing grounded in the texts; avoid abstract phrases Today  Review: Kleinman’s health care systems  Scholarship on social and cultural construction of biomedicine  Fleck’s thought collectives  3 major contributions of social constructionism to medical anthropology Kleinman’s Definition  “socially organized responses to disease that constitute a special cultural system *…+ of symbolic meanings, anchored in particular arrangements of social institutions and patterns of interpersonal interactions” Biomedicine as socially constructed cultural systems  Wright and Treacher (1982): o Biomedicine a vehicle of legitimizing foreign conquest of foreign bodies  Lock and Gordon (1988):  Fleck (1927, 35, 35, 36): o Analysed construction of medical knowledge o Thought collectives: a community of persons mutually exchanging ideas or maintaining intellectual interaction o Thought-style: the special carrier for the historical development of any field of thought, as well as for the given stock of knowledge and level of culture  (Individually) the readiness for directed perception, with corresponding mental and objective assimilation for what has been so perceived  Sounds a lot like definitions of culture Social Constructionism  Understanding the construction of biomedical knowledge as a social and cultural process o Constructed by culture and society  Dialectical relationship between biomedical knowledge and social relations o Biomedical perspective also aids in constructing social and cultural environment  Discourse analysis as a methodological approach (Foucault) o Analysis of medical text or policy discourse o Close attention to language and every day linguistic practices Discussion questions  1. How can scientific and popular accounts of the biology of human reproduction be interpreted as based on cultural gender stereotypes? o Sperm is represented as aggressive and determined, constantly driving forward whereas the egg is represented as passive and “wasteful:  Eggs are limited, so not using them is wasteful, whereas sperm can be produced all the time at any time, practically; eggs become a commodity and to not use them becomes wasteful; this comes from the history of capitalist society and how capitalist society built the world of biomedicine or they were built alongside each other o Female system is both “unproductive and wasteful” o Egg is also the “damsel in distress” who is dependent and fragile and needs to be “rescued” by the sperm  In reality, sperm sticks to egg and the egg entraps it, which leads to another misogynistic stereotype of the dangerous and threatening female o Sperm is also represented in a HYPER aggressive sense to the point where it is imagined as
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