© 2021

Humans and Devices in Medical Contexts

Case Studies from Japan

  • Susanne Brucksch
  • Kaori Sasaki
  • Shows how the making and application of medical technologies must be considered as a co-constitutive process of social and technical factors in the field of human-machine relations in the medical context

  • First book to address such perspectives from a Japanese perspective, facilitating a critical reflection on underlying principles, unchallenged narratives, perceptions of societal values, and economic modes

  • Sheds new light on how the Japanese context intersects with the making and application of medical technologies, and upon potential factors that cause differences from their Euro-American counterparts


Part of the Health, Technology and Society book series (HTE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiv
  2. Introduction and Theoretical Reflections

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Susanne Brucksch, Kaori Sasaki
      Pages 3-20
  3. Experiences with Radiation

  4. Patient Safety, End-of-life and High-tech Medicine

  5. Innovation and Diffusion of Medical Devices

  6. Engineering and Evaluating Medical Technology

  7. Conclusions

About this book


This book explores the ways in which socio-technical settings in medical contexts find varying articulations in a specific locale. Focusing on Japan, it consists of nine case studies on topics concerning: experiences with radiation in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima; patient security, end-of-life and high-tech medicine in hospitals; innovation and diffusion of medical technology; and the engineering and evaluating of novel devices in clinical trials. The individual chapters situate humans and devices in medical settings in their given semantic, pragmatic, institutional and historical context. A novel interdisciplinary approach offers deep insights beyond the manifold findings of each case study, thereby enriching academic discussions on socio-technical settings in medical contexts amongst affiliated disciplines. This volume will be of broad interest to scholars, practitioners, policy makers and students from various disciplines, including Science and Technology Studies (STS), medical humanities, social sciences, ethics and law, business and innovation studies, as well as biomedical engineering, medicine and public health.


medicine technology and society Japan human-machine relationships medical devices clinical practices engineering innovation

Editors and affiliations

  • Susanne Brucksch
    • 1
  • Kaori Sasaki
    • 2
  1. 1.German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ)TokyoJapan
  2. 2.Center for Medical EducationSapporo Medical UniversitySapporoJapan

About the editors

Dr Susanne Brucksch is a principal researcher at the German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo. Her research covers topics of innovation in medical technologies, Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Japanese Studies.

Dr Kaori Sasaki is a professor at Sapporo Medical University. As a sociologist, her main interest lies on the shaping of bio-politics on humanity alongside cultural (identity) politics. She conducts research regarding the utilisation of electronic health records in Japan and in the UK.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Humans and Devices in Medical Contexts
  • Book Subtitle Case Studies from Japan
  • Editors Susanne Brucksch
    Kaori Sasaki
  • Series Title Health, Technology and Society
  • Series Abbreviated Title Health, Technology and Society
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2021
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-33-6279-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-33-6282-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-33-6280-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXIV, 324
  • Number of Illustrations 17 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Science and Technology Studies
    Medical Anthropology
    Medical Sociology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“By comparing the use of medical devices between Japan and various other countries, this book underscores that even global technologies are not universal. This prompts the question how the differences traced best be used as sources of intellectual as well as practical inspiration.” (Annemarie Mol, co-editor of On Other Terms: Interfering in Social Science English)

“Technology in medicine in Japan is a fascinating subject. From the triumph of hi-tech and reliable devices to the disaster of the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japanese medical technology has attracted the attention of scholars in humanities and social sciences, and this work marks a solid starting point. Brucksch and Sasaki have collected twelve absorbing chapters and opened the door to many disciplines as philosophy, history, and economics, as well as medicine and engineering.” (Akihito Suzuki, Professor of History, Keio University, Japan)

“This book is an important contribution to the interdisciplinary study of innovation, diffusion and evaluation of high-tech medicine, including citizen’s experiences with radiation. The focus on Japan illustrates the relevancy and richness of an approach that accounts for the socio-historical, cultural and political situatedness of the relationship between humans and medical devices. The fascinating case studies of the Japanese locale remind us of the importance of breaking with a universalist perspective that only addresses European and North-American perspectives and taking their socio-cultural contexts for granted.” (Nelly Oudshoorn, Professor Emerita of Technology Dynamics and Healthcare, University of Twente, the Netherlands)

“A remarkable collection of well researched essays from several disciplinary standpoints about how the use of technology is shaped by culture, beliefs, politics, organizational interests and other social factors in the medical field in Japan, e.g. radiation measurement and the controversies about brain death, patient safety, as well as robots.” (John Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Michigan, US)