Situating Solidarities, EASST 2014, Toruń Poland

On 17 September 2014 Save to calendar

At Toruń, Poland Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Jurija Gagarina 11, 87-100 Toruń, Polen

Categories: Symposium

The EASST conference 2014 addresses the dynamics and interrelationships between science, technology and society. Contributors are invited to address the meeting’s theme of ‘Situating Solidarities’ though papers on any topic relevant to the wider field are also welcome.

The theme of ‚situating solidarities’ addresses asymmetries of power through a focus on material, situated sociotechnical configurations. Heterogeneous networks of actors are stabilised to different degrees through complex negotiations. Rather than seeking universal abstractions the theme asks questions such as: What do the chains and networks of asymmetries look like? How do they travel? What do they carry? Do asymmetries translate to inequalities? What are the solidarities that shape the practices, artifacts and ‚know-hows’ in situated material contexts?

Political and ethical engagement is a central concern for a view of science as changes in collective practice, rather than as individual contemplation. How should STS observe or influence the raising and erasing of social and technical asymmetries in everyday life? What do the ‚situated solidarities’ of dealing with asymmetries and inequalities look like? Can STS contribute to the work of solidarising to connect asymmetric agents, places, moves and networks to weaken inequalities and change hegemonic relations?

Evaluating Reach, from Effectiveness to Social ecology of Resilience in Mental Health Promotion

Authors: Mare Knibbe (Mastricht University, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences)  
Klasien Horstman (Maastricht University)  

Groups characterized by low socioeconomic status (LSES) belong to the hard-to-reach groups defined by the WHO in its report about the 'mental health gap' (2008). This paper presents a project taking a new approach to 'reach'. Classic 'diffusion' approaches to reach, are based on a narrow notion of valid knowledge that should reach LSES groups via evidence based interventions. However, the lack of reach of evidence based intervention can be seen as a limit to the validity in both scientific and normative sense. Mental health promotion deals with sensitive social and normative issues and is therefore not socially modular: what works in experimental social settings may not work in street-interactions in LSES neighborhoods.

The health promotion project that we present, does not take the validity of evidence in the social contexts of LSES groups for granted. 'Bianca in the neighborhood', is a community based mixed media project designed to promote mental health and resilience in LSES neighborhoods in the city of Maastricht. Six short films, about social, financial and emotional difficulties, common in the participating neighborhoods, form the central constituents of the media project. Around these films media- and social interactions were organized. We analyze the types of stories and expertise that were included and excluded during 'the making of Bianca'. In addition we analyze the neighborhood deliberations, generated by Bianca about redistributing responsibilities for mental health and social resilience. The analysis is based on an ethnographic study of the project and its embedding.

Soft technologies of the participatory society

Authors: Susan van Hees (Maastricht University), Klasien Horstman (Maastricht University)  
Maria Jansen (Maastricht University / Public Health Service)  
Dirk Ruwaard (CAPRI- School for Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University)  

Solidarity, responsibility and participation are key words of the Dutch reform of a welfare state into a 'participatory society'. This reform entails that the meaning of citizenship has changed from entitlements towards obligations and responsibilities. Old age has been connected to the notion of entitlements for decades, articulating the idea that people of old age have 'earned' their pension and healthcare. However, while elderly people consider themselves entitled, authorities define them as dependent healthcare consumers.

Professionals like nurses, social workers, elderly advisors and municipal workers have to connect the different meanings of citizenship and the expectations about care that accompany these meanings. Professionals collaborate in multidisciplinary social care teams to mediate the different perspectives of authorities and elderly people. They use soft technologies like kitchen-table conversations, case-management, and shared registration systems to perform their mediating role.

In this study we followed a collaborative project in the Southern part of the Netherlands that aims to develop lifecycle robust neighborhoods. Elderly people are approached as 'full' citizens, in an attempt to face the challenges of an aging population and expanding healthcare expenditures. To understand the construction of elderly citizenship, we interviewed elderly people, welfare-, healthcare- and housing professionals, policy-makers, civil servants, directors and aldermen (n=72). Besides this, we observed project-meetings, performed focus groups and analyzed documents. Based on the empirical data collected, we will demonstrate how soft technologies help to mediate the meaning of citizenship, participation and aging.

Meanwhile professional boundaries shift, new responsibilities to construct responsible elderly citizens demand new expertise.

Blending expectations, experiences and ethics. Participatory research in a clinical study for an innovative vaccine against smoking

Authors: Anna Wolters (Maastricht University (UM)), Klasien Horstman (Maastricht University), Onno van Schayck (Maastricht University)  

In the research of innovative drugs, the participatory role of most stakeholders is usually limited to enabling the 'technical' development and testing. Potential users, for instance, do enter 'the lab' but dominantly in their capacity of silent research subjects, whereas health policymakers are mainly implied as research funders or regulators. In fact, the connection between experimental phase and societal usage is typically restricted to positive outcome percentages of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on which medicine agencies base their approval. As a result, implementation of the innovative drug frequently parallels frustration in users, health professionals, and policymakers. How to avoid this disappointment?

As embedded qualitative researchers in a Dutch RCT for nicotine vaccination to quit smoking, we have designed an empirical ethical study in which human activities, social processes, and norms and values are put center stage. Between 2009 and 2013, we have collected material on what research participants and other important stakeholders in the experimental health strategy expect, experience, and value. Fieldwork at the clinical trial location and more than seventy in-depth interviews have resulted in a thick description of nicotine vaccination from the standpoint of the people involved, while our analysis of the scientific debate in journals and international expert meetings suggests that the normative agenda of nicotine vaccination is incomplete.

These findings have nourished an evaluative framework that all stakeholders, including developers, may use to bridge the science-society gap. It is to stimulate a two-way dialogue and offers ethical guidance in research and policy decisions around nicotine vaccination.

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