Accepted paper:

Empirical bioethics provocation: getting our hands dirty - necessary tensions in intersectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration and co-production


Madeleine Murtagh (Newcastle University)

Paper short abstract:

Intersectoral and transdisciplinary participatory or collaborative research necessarily involves researchers 'getting our hands dirty'. So how does such meddlesome work square with STS's critical mindset when relationships are dependent on good rapport, trust and reciprocity?

Paper long abstract:

Contemporary STS is often engaged in co-productive sociotechnical projects which include a normative dimension or are frankly ethical in scope; take for example, the co-production of technologies and ethical governance for sharing health and social care data in the 'Learning Health System' approach to health care. Such projects are often characterised by their intersectorality and interdisciplinarity: researchers working alongside citizens, bioinformaticians, care workers, patient and public advocates, statisticians, clinicians, communications and engagement specialists and others. This is a potentially thorny mix! That it is also practise-oriented rather than research-oriented may raise tensions as the motivations, expectations, cultures and assumptions of its heterogeneous actors intersect and sometimes collide. If co-production in deliberative spaces is an end in itself for empirical bioethics (and that is an open question) what then of the necessary tensions that working 'with' presents? How does this meddlesome work square with STS's critical mindset, when working relationships are dependent on good rapport, trust and reciprocity? This short 'impulse presentation' precedes the roundtable discussion following full paper presentations in this session.

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Confluence, collaboration and intersection
Empirical bioethics in STS. Making science, technology and society in research and deliberative spaces