The practice of medical technology

Sociol Health Illn. 2003:25:97-114. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.00342.


In this article, we review 25 years of sociological scholarship published in Sociology of Health and Illness on medical technologies. We divide the literature into three theoretical perspectives: technological determinism views medical technology as a political force to shape social relationships, social essentialism emphasizes how medical technologies are neutral tools to be interpreted in social interactions, and technology-in-practice highlights the dialectic relationship between technology and its users in health care. While the technology-in-practice orientation allows social scientists to critique the high hopes and dire warnings embedded in medical technologies, we argue that the logical next step of this paradigm is to move beyond criticism and influence the creation and implementation of medical technologies.

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics*
  • Humans
  • Medical Laboratory Science*
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Professional Practice*
  • Sociology, Medical*