1st Edition

Refracting through Technologies Bodies, Medical Technologies and Norms

By Ericka Johnson Copyright 2020
    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the ‘material-discursive entanglement’ of how we both make the world with our words and how the materiality of the world forces us to put words on it. Beginning with the conundrum of how the things that make up our world are both shaped by and shape the ways in which we talk about, engage with and think about them, the author accepts the entanglement and then works backwards, using the metaphor of refraction to help articulate the structures, values and norms that discursively shape our world and our selves in it. Through a series of empirical examples taken from work on medical technologies and the body, Refracting through Technologies shows how researchers and designers can use material things – technologies – to refract discourses and articulate the concerns and voices producing them. Refraction as a metaphor is thus revealed to be an important concept, enabling scholars to apply analytical work to political concerns about the technological world. As such, it will appeal to scholars of sociology, science and technology studies, philosophy and design with interests in technoscience, feminist thought and social theory.


    1. Refracting Spectrums of Siscourse

    2. Viagra in Sweden

    3. HPV Vaccines

    4. Public Toilets and Ageing Prostates

    5. The E-pelvis Simulator and Knowledge of the Body

    6. Manipulating the Discursive and the Material

    7. Conclusion


    Ericka Johnson is Professor of Gender and Society at Linköping University, Sweden. She is the author of Gendering Drugs: Feminist Studies of Pharmaceuticals and Dreaming of a Mail-Order Husband: Russian-American Internet Romance; the co-author of Glocal Pharma: International Brands and the Imagination of Local Masculinity; and the co-editor of Technology and Medical Practice: Blood, Guts and Machines.