Behind the medical mask : medical technology and medical power
Harvey, Janet (1992) Behind the medical mask : medical technology and medical power. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
WRAP_THESIS_Harvey_1992.pdf - Submitted Version - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1417895~S1
This thesis explores the role of technology as a resource in the
structure of medical domination of birth and death, stressing
technology's pivotal position at the intersection of control and
Based in Intensive Care and Obstetrics (between which the health status
of patients diverges sharply), it notes the convergence of technology
used and examines the contest for control within the labour process.
This includes using technology to facilitate a 'standardized' birth or
death; a more retrospectively defensible event. In general, the
'burden of proof' is concluded to lie with those wishing not to
intervene rather than the reverse.
Given the (cognitively male) biomedical model, mind-body dualism is an
assumption embedded in medical technology: this is especially
significant in childbirth, where it fractures the woman's ontological
experience of giving birth. Its positivistic and pathological
emphasis is associated with a reification of processes and a
commodification of their 'solution': which becomes located in
technology. It is argued that commodification in health provision will
increase with the further application of market principles to the NHS.
It is concluded that 'uncertainty', endemic to medicine and a possible
challenge to control, is proactively manipulated and pressed into the
service of medical domination. Technology is used to mask uncertainty
and aid the medical profession's control of patients/relatives, and
subordinate work groups.
A technological fix may be viewed as the opposite to re-discovering
societal dreams and myths, however, more paradoxically, it is concluded
that dreams and myths have become attached to technology. Thus, the
symbolic role of technology is: to provide hope of continued survival
(or cure), the veiling of existential uncertainty and the offer of
'absolution' - should all efforts fail (a freedom from guilt in the
assurance that "everything possible was tried"). Its 'heroic' project
is viewed as an existentially 'masculine' health provision and
'feminized' health care is posited as an alternative.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||R Medicine > R Medicine (General)|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Medical technology, Childbirth, Intensive care units|
|Official Date:||September 1992|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Sociology|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Burgess, Robert G. ; Annandale, Ellen|
|Sponsors:||Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)|
|Extent:||v, 312,  leaves|
Actions (login required)
Downloads per month over past year