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Robotic surgery and society

Funding body

Wellcome Trust

Investigator(s)

Principal investigator: Prof Clare Williams
Co-investigator: Dr. Neil Stephens
 

Project description

The project is an ethnographic exploration of the development of robotic surgical tools. The project is conducting laboratory ethnography of a number of connected sites active in the field.

The project is an ethnographic exploration of the development of robotic surgical tools. The project is conducting laboratory ethnography of a number of connected sites active in the field. By drawing together observational work and interviewing the research contributes to an established tradition within Science and Technology Studies and Medical Sociology of inspecting innovative biomedical practices in the settings in which they occur.

The research seeks to understand the social processes influencing the development and uptake of robotic surgical tools. Key areas of analysis include: (i) understanding the knowledge production and sense-making practices ongoing within the laboratory space, (ii) the response to surgical tools by surgical professionals, and (iii) the positioning of robotic surgical tools within spaces of potential uptake and use.

The research is primarily conducted by Dr Neil Stephens, building upon his existing background in laboratory ethnography, and is supervised by Prof Clare Williams. The team are working to produce a set of outputs including presentations at international conferences and open access publications in social science journals.

The project forms part of the broader Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Strategic Award LABTEC project (London & Brighton Translational Ethics Centre: £843,000 http://www.brunel.ac.uk/cbass/social-sciences-media-communications/sociology/research/cbas/labtec). The current project continues key themes from this existing work on translational research and neurosurgery.