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Material agency in the laboratory and the clinic

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Author(s): Olivia Harvey | Kathryn Ehrich

Journal: Eä : Revista de Humanidades Médicas & Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología
ISSN 1852-4680

Volume: 2;
Issue: 3;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: human embryonic research | actor-network theory | sociology of biomedicine | science and technology studies | social studies of science

ABSTRACT
Concepts such as ‘moral landscape’, ‘ethical boundary work’, and ‘moral work object’ have been used in relation to understanding embryos in the context of the social relations of the clinic and the laboratory. In this paper, we draw on actor-network literature to consider the extent to which in-vitro embryos might be considered to act as agents within the social worlds of the clinic and the laboratory. The question we are specifically interested in is the following: if we think of embryos in terms of their material agency, how might this be significant for on-going social science research into these social worlds? In particular, how might this help us to understand why some professionals in human embryonic stem cell research express qualms about working with human in-vitro embryos?

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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