Life science, public politics, and the case of Cochlear Implantation
Cochlear Implantation is now regarded as the most successful medical technology. It carries promises to provide deaf/hearing impaired individuals with a technological sense of hearing and an access to participate on a more equal level in social life. In this article, we explore the adoption of cochlear implantations among Danish users in order to shed more light on their social and political implications. We situate cochlear implantation in a framework of new life science advances, politics, and user experiences. Analytically, we draw upon the notion of social imaginary and explore the social dimension of life science through a notion of public politics adopted from the political theory of John Dewey. We show how cochlear implantation engages different social imaginaries on the collective and individual levels and we suggest that users share an imaginary of being “wired to freedom” that involves new access to social life, continuous communicative challenges, common practices, and experiences. In looking at their lives as “wired to freedom,” we hope to promote a wider spectrum of civic participation in the benefit of future life science developments within and beyond the field of Cochlear Implantation. As our empirical observations are largely based in the Scandinavian countries (notably Denmark), we also provide some reflections on the character of the technology-friendly Scandinavian welfare states and the unintended consequences that may follow in the wake of rapid technology implementation of life science in society.
Public Understanding of Science, 2017, Vol 26, Issue 2, p. 164-178
Faculty of Social Sciences; Journal Article; governance of science and technology; public participation; public understanding of science; studies of science and technology