, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 262-284
Date: 13 May 2011

From Healing to Witchcraft: On Ritual Speech and Roboticization in the Hospital

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Healthcare Information Technology (HIT), touted as a panacea by U.S. political actors ranging from Newt Gingrich to Barack Obama, is central to emerging forms of healthcare governance which Holmes et al.—in their critique of the institutionalization of magical thinking brought about by Orwellian techno-Newspeak—have provocatively labeled fascistic. Drawing from data collected over 3 years of working with and teaching continuing education (CE) courses for thousands of registered nurses as lead political educator for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), I argue that HIT is an integral component of a broader technological restructuring of healthcare and thus society, both of which are part of a social discourse that is tied to a transformative system of ritual speech, with profound implications for healthcare work, patient health, and democracy.