Contested Categories: Life Sciences in Society, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Contested Categories

Life Sciences in Society, 1st Edition

By Ayo Wahlberg

Edited by Susanne Bauer


228 pages

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Drawing on social science perspectives, Contested Categories presents a series of empirical studies that engage with the often shifting and day-to-day realities of life sciences categories. In doing so, it shows how such categories remain contested and dynamic, and that the boundaries they create are subject to negotiation as well as re-configuration and re-stabilization processes. Organized around the themes of biological substances and objects, personhood and the genomic body and the creation and dispersion of knowledge, each of the volume’s chapters reveals the elusive nature of fixity with regard to life science categories. With contributions from an international team of scholars, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the social, legal, policy and ethical implications of science and technology and the life sciences.


'The vital landmarks that humans use to negotiate their existence as living beings are under challenge by bioscientific knowledge and biomedical technique, and an unstable mixture of venture capital and human desire. What is alive? Who is normal? When is sadness a disease? What is natural and what is artifice? Where does my body end and my prosthetics begin? Who can own what when it comes to human bodies? - These questions are not merely philosophically profound but they shape the ways in which human life is managed today. This stimulating collection brings together the reflections of a new generation of scholars, and clearly demonstrates the crucial role that empirical investigation can play in helping us grasp the challenges posed by this widespread contest of the categories we live by.' Nikolas Rose, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK 'This path-breaking collection takes the social analysis of emerging practices in the life sciences in an important new direction. Focusing on the labeling and classification of biomedical objects and entities, contributors to this volume make abundantly evident the extent to which the significance and meanings attributed to such entities are transformed and reworked as they travel among laboratory scientists, clinicians, policy makers, and the public. Classificatory practices are never merely technical� in kind, but exhibit a social life of their own. This book draws readers into a world of boundary making in the life sciences that demands a generous pause for considered reflection.' Margaret Lock, McGill University, Canada

About the Author/Editor

Susanne Bauer is postdoctoral researcher at Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Ayo Wahlberg, until recently at the London School of Economics, UK, is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

About the Series

Theory, Technology and Society

Theory, Technology and Society
Theory, Technology and Society presents the latest work in social, cultural and political theory, which considers the impact of new technologies on social, economic and political relationships. Central to the series are the elucidation of new theories of the humanity-technology relationship, the ethical implications of techno-scientific innovation, and the identification of unforeseen effects which are emerging from the techno-scientific organization of society. With particular interest in questions of gender relations, the body, virtuality, penality, work, aesthetics, urban space, surveillance, governance and the environment, the series encourages work that seeks to determine the nature of the social consequences that have followed the deployment of new technologies, investigate the increasingly complex relationship between 'the human' and 'the technological', or addresses the ethical and political questions arising from the constant transformation and manipulation of humanity.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General