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STS approaches to study contestations of medical evidence-based knowledge and recommendations 
Pia Vuolanto (Tampere University, Finland)
Caragh Brosnan (University of Newcastle, Australia)
Katharina T. Paul (University of Vienna)
Jenny-Ann Danell (Umea University)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This open panel welcomes multidisciplinary STS research on the contestations of medical evidence-based knowledge, recommendations and the work of experts and clinicians related to e.g. vaccine hesitancy, nutrition debates, and complementary and alternative medicine.

Long Abstract:

The past decades have seen an increasing prominence of social movements related to vaccine hesitancy, nutrition debates, and complementary and alternative medicine. Here, people’s perceptions about science come into conflicting relationships with biomedical research, recommendations and the work of formal experts and clinicians.

How, and with what effects, do these movements contest established medical knowledge? How do formal experts, clinicians, and policymakers respond to these contestations? What new discursive spaces, such as digital platforms, have emerged that offer room for contestation? What role do new scientific practices, such as citizen science, play in these contestations? This panel seeks to bring together multidisciplinary STS research that engages with these questions across medical fields, ranging from screening to prevention and treatments. Across these areas, social movements, many of which have a long history, challenge established hierarchies of knowledge and seek to make space for the expertise of actors whose knowledge has been marginalized. There is also contestation within and between these movements about what counts as evidence. These debates, in turn, may produce new knowledge hierarchies, or see medical evidence mobilized in new ways. Studying how these contestations and movements are developing is essential for understanding the extent to which the dominance of medicine is challenged or reinforced.

STS approaches and methodologies are well-suited to study the complexity of conflicts around medical knowledge and evidence, especially how these contestations manifest themselves and are produced through both clinical practices and wider societal discourses. We welcome empirical papers that explore practices of contestations of biomedical knowledge and formal expertise as well as conceptual contributions that discuss the effects of these contestations for health care governance.

Accepted papers: