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Acting in Anaesthesia
Ethnographic Encounters with Patients, Practitioners and Medical Technologies


Part of Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives

  • Date Published: May 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521882064

£ 90.00

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About the Authors
  • In recent years, evidence-based medicine (EBM), clinical governance and professional accountability have become increasingly significant in shaping the organisation and delivery of healthcare. However, these notions all build upon and exemplify the idea of human-centred, individual action. In this book, Dawn Goodwin suggests that such models of practice exaggerate the extent to which practitioners are able to predict and control the circumstances and contingencies of healthcare. Drawing on ethnographic material, Goodwin explores the way that 'action' unfolds in a series of empirical cases of anaesthetic and intensive care practice. Anaesthesia configures a relationship between humans, machines and devices that transforms and redistributes capacities for action and thereby challenges the figure of a rational, intentional, acting individual. This book elucidates the ways in which various entities (machines, tools, devices and unconscious patients as well as healthcare practitioners) participate, and how actions become legitimate and accountable.

    • The use of detailed ethnographic material (made possible by having worked in the field prior to research)
    • Extends the empirical reach of the 'learning in doing' series into the field of health and medicine
    • Considers the implications of sociological theorising for practitioners
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '[This book] is based on ethnographic research, both detailed, real-time observations and in-depth interviews, but it also benefits from Goodwin's past experiences as an anaesthetic and recovery nurse. It is obvious that she knows her ethnographic field very well, a knowledge which allows her to provide the reader with very detailed and helpful descriptions of otherwise confusing medical procedures.' Ericka Johnson, Technoscienza

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521882064
    • length: 204 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 162 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Understanding anaesthesia: theory and practice
    2. Refashioning bodies, reshaping agency
    3. Accounting for incoherent bodies
    4. Teamwork, participation, and boundaries
    5. Embodied knowledge: coordinating spaces, bodies, and tools
    6. Recognising agency, legitimating participation, and acting accountably in anaesthesia.

  • Author

    Dawn Goodwin, Lancaster University
    Dawn Goodwin is a social science lecturer in medical education and director of problem-based learning and teaches courses on various aspects of science, technology and medicine to both medical and social science students. Her current research interests focus on the development of embodied knowledge, its place in clinical practice and the processes of learning involved. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research centred on the notions of participation and accountability in healthcare practice. Along with colleagues Dr Buscher and Dr Mesman, Dawn Goodwin is currently editing a book of ethnographic studies of diagnostic work drawn from a range of disciplines.

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