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Prescriptive Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals and Healthy Subjectivities


This research asks how pharmaceuticals prescribe the healthy subject. It examines the cultural meanings and expectations attached to four prescription drugs, and compares the policies and practices around their use in two countries, Sweden and the UK.

Empirically, it studies prescription medicines on the outer edges of adulthood: the HPV vaccine; hormone treatments for early puberty; alpha-blockers against Benign Prostrate Hyperplasia; and pharmaceutical developments against Alzheimer s disease. This view from the edges of the mature subject will bring into focus the practices and pleasures, responsibilities and rewards the adult subject position contains (or at least promises), the gendered positionalities it entails and culturally specific expectations articulated by medical prescriptions. The project conceptualizes of pharmaceuticals as flexible technologies, as actors which influence our identities but which also work within and are constrained by institutional policies, social values, medical practices and the material world.

The study will open new research horizons on two levels: The groundbreaking methodological approach, with hands-on, collaborative analytical work in PhD courses and analysis workshops between the participants and sites, will ensure an interdisciplinary approach by truly in actual research practice combining approaches from Science Technology and Society, Gender Studies and Posthumanist Studies. In addition, while firmly grounded in concepts of performative subjecthood, identity, the Self and materialities, this project will force a re-reading of the empirical material through ideas from early medical sociology texts, work which viewed health, illness and treatments as embedded in and performed by communities rather than as possessions and responsibilities of the individual patient. This collaborative re-reading will challenge theoretical ideas about the medicalization of the healthy subject and critical pharmaceutical studie

Call for proposal

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Linköping University
Campus valla
581 83 Linköping

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Johan åkerman (Mr.)
Principal investigator
Ericka Sue Johnson (Dr.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (2)