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Lecture Theatre G.03

50 George Square

Edinburgh

EH8 9JU

United Kingdom

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What is the Sociology of Medical Knowledge?

Large parts of modern society are devoted to delivering healthcare. Ever more resources are channelled through hugely complicated systems of technical work, from the delivery of health advice and bedside care to the manufacture of monoclonal antibody drugs and MRI scanners. This work in turn depends on some of the most sophisticated knowledge humans have ever developed. In order to understand modern medicine – how it is organised, how it does what it does, and how in the end it affects our lives – we need to understand how that knowledge is itself produced, organised and put into practice.

In this lecture, Professor Sturdy will show how the sociology of medical knowledge can enrich our understanding of modern healthcare, by examining how medical knowledge and healthcare systems have shaped one another over the past 150 years. Modern medicine has been made possible by the growth of new forms of scientific knowledge, offering new understanding of the human body in health and illness, and new ways of controlling it. But at the same time, that knowledge has itself been shaped by changing expectations of what medicine should be, how it should serve society, and how it should be organised to that end. Seeing medicine, and especially medical knowledge, in this sociological light can help us to understand why healthcare is the way it is now, and to think about how it should be shaped for the future.

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Lecture Theatre G.03

50 George Square

Edinburgh

EH8 9JU

United Kingdom

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