Accepted Paper:

Prenatal Genetic testing as instruments of governementalisation of public health  


Catherine Fallon (University of Liege )

Paper short abstract:

Genealogy of production of technical and financial regulations for prenatal genetic tests show how power and knowledge develop as entities intertwined within a dynamic relationship, supporting the emergence of socio technical networks and forms of resistance in this sector of public health

Paper long abstract:

Developments in genomics support the vision of the body as an "information network" and different experts construct models for the calculation of life in the development of policy regulation, developing specific policy frames- either at individual or at population level, on the basis of power strategies mobilizing and disseminating specific forms of knowledge which are disciplined and selective.

The contribution will present the recent evolution of the apparatuses producing the technical regulation and financial norms for the use of prenatal genetic testing (Belgian case study): what are the new control relations between subsidizing and control bodies and the hospitals; what are the new forms of cooperation between medical doctors, biomedical experts and psycho-sociologists in relation with the patients. A careful analysis of the genealogy of policy instruments (Lascoumes and LeGal├Ęs 2001) in this sector and on the emergence of regulatory networks with geneticists and clinicians and subsidizing bodies, arises questions on critical issues such as : Who has the resources (intellectual, technological or financial) to control the technology and its use ? what are the social, institutional and technological constrains? who defines and select the legitimate options ?

The analysis is not so much normative than critical, giving due attention to emergence of socio technical networks and of forms of resistance, and mobilizing the concept of "governementalisation of the state" (Foucault 2008) to analyse how power and knowledge develops as entities intertwined within a dynamic relationship in the new fields of public health.

Panel T017
STS for pharmaceuticals and public health policy