Health Care Analysis

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 355–374 | Cite as

Power, Technology and Social Studies of Health Care: An Infrastructural Inversion

  • Casper Bruun JensenEmail author
Original Article


Power, dominance, and hierarchy are prevalent analytical terms in social studies of health care. Power is often seen as residing in medical structures, institutions, discourses, or ideologies. While studies of medical power often draw on Michel Foucault, this understanding is quite different from his proposal to study in detail the “strategies, the networks, the mechanisms, all those techniques by which a decision is accepted” [Foucault, M. (1988). In Politics, philosophy, culture: Interviews and other writings 1977–84 (pp. 96–109). New York: Routledge]. This suggestion turns power into a topic worth investigating in its own right rather than a basic analytical resource. It also suggests that technologies form an integral part of the networks and mechanisms, which produce and redistribute power in medical practice. The paper first engages critically with a number of recent discussions of technology and power in health care analysis. It then formulates an alternative conception of this relationship by drawing on Foucault and historian of science and technology Geoffrey C. Bowker’s notions of infrastructural inversion and information mythology. Illustration is provided through a case study of a wireless nursing call system in a Canadian hospital.


Power Technology Social studies Health care 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organization and Industrial SociologyCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark

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