The short story...

My research draws from the fields of medical sociology, science and technology studies (STS), and feminist disability studies. I use ethnographic methods to show how individual experiences are situated within institutional structures and a larger sociocultural context. All of my research is concerned with how science, technology, and medicine shape contemporary life and is based on the contention that disability – like race, class, or gender - is a political and social category. My aim is to give voice to the experiences of individuals and families who utilize healthcare services and/or medical technologies in order to show the ambivalent qualities of technoscientific change, the politics of disability and illness, and to suggest what healthcare policies or issues need to be further researched or improved. 


...and the longer story

I tend to study the ways that expanding medical knowledge and biotechnological capabilities transform how we see the human body and how this affects us on multiple levels. On a broad level, biotechnologies spur new healthcare industries and shape cultural norms about what one is “supposed to do” in the face of a certain illness, condition or disability. On an institutional level, new medical technologies affect clinical practices and interactions because they create novel demands on everyone involved (i.e. practitioners, patients, families, and particularly women).  On an individual level, expanding medical treatments can radically change the lives of people with various conditions, incite controversies over when and if individuals should utilize medical interventions, and alter the kinds of intimate care work that families members may be required or expected to perform.

More than anything I rely on telling stories through ethnographic methods. As a feminist methodologist, this kind of sociological storytelling is a powerful way to understand how we navigate and experience the realities of human bodies, the systems of meaning we attach to them, and how medicine is organized/organizes us. I see telling the stories of individual and family experiences as a way to better understand how medical technologies are reshaping communities, how we are coping with an increasingly medicalized society, and how medical technologies bring both wondrous solutions and whole new sets of problems. That is, I emphasize how all of us (but especially those with disabilities and/or who are experiencing illness, as well as their families) are affected in complex ways by an increasingly medicalized society and that technologies are accompanied by both gains and losses.