SASE 2022

TH02 – Contested Spaces and Disrupted Markets: Controversies in the Struggle for Innovation and Control of Health and Medicines (July 9-11, 2022)

Call for Papers

Organized by Larry Au, Kathryn Ibata-Arens, Wan-Zi Lu, and Étienne Nouguez

More on the conference:

Health and medicines have become the center of controversy in recent years. From the transnational anti-vax movement, the diminishing authority of medical professionals, to the disputed efficacy of alternative and traditional medicines—controversies around claims of authority and accountability have affected the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Social scientists have analyzed causes of such contestations as rising mistrust, the politicization of science, misinformation and disinformation on social media, as well as broader discontents over marketization of medicine. Against this backdrop of controversy, stakeholders—such as patients, physicians, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry—have altered their health-seeking behaviors, clinical routines, and approach to regulating and developing new drugs.

Controversies also bring forth struggles between stakeholders, as each vie for control in setting the new norms and rules that govern these marketplaces. For example, physicians have turned to mobile and tele-health solutions in providing care. Meanwhile, these changes prompt questions over the quality of care and how to regulate clinical interactions. Likewise, activists and policy reformers have championed open innovation systems to increase production capacity of Covid-19 vaccines and access to essential medicines; but these attempts were met with resistance from those benefiting from the privatization of profits. But amidst these struggles, therein lies new possibilities for innovation to advance more equal and equitable visions of healthcare.

The MedHealth mini-conference convenes interdisciplinary panels around these controversies, struggles, and transformations in contested spaces and disrupted markets. We will facilitate critical discussion and reflection on participants’ works-in-progress. Some potential questions include:

  • ANARCHY: How has the panic-buying of such drugs as ivermectin impacted the markets for these drugs? What is the lasting influence of Covid-19 on the authority of experts and medical professionals? How has misinformation and disinformation impacted perceptions of trust and health-seeking behaviors?
  • ACTIVISM: When and where have patient organizations been able to cooperate with scientists and clinicians to develop new protocols for medical care? What is the role of citizen science in a predominantly market-driven system of biomedical innovation? How can (social) entrepreneurs, large firms, and other alliances and coalitions foster new norms in healthcare?
  • COORDINATION: What are some causal mechanisms in improving, or undermining community health, for example, through policy and organizational strategy? How do frameworks and methods identify key actors and explain outcomes? In the context of global health, how can different stakeholders work to promote access to healthcare?
  • CONTROL: How have states and healthcare organizations been effective (or ineffective, indifferent) in the pricing of medicines? What should be the responsibility, if any, of the global intellectual property rights regime as arbitrated by the World Trade Organization in limiting patents on living matter? What are the roles for regulation of markets for such boundary-products between medicine and health food as probiotics, herbals, and other dietary supplements?

We encourage submissions exploring theoretical and empirical analysis from the developed and developing world. In the spirit of innovation and creativity, the panels will have an interactive workshop format around discussant feedback and moderated audience participation.

TH02-01 – The Struggle for Equity in Healthcare Policy and Activism

Moderator: Wan-Zi Lu

TH02-02 – Coordination or Control in the Organizations of Healthcare

Moderator: Kathryn Ibata-Arens

TH02-03 – The Contested Politics of Scientific Expertise and Medical Authority

Moderator: Etienne Nouguez

TH02-04 – Innovation and the State: Private Markets versus the Global Commons for Drugs and Essential Medicines

Moderator: Larry Au

TH02-05 – Change and Continuity of Medical Innovation: The Architecture of Health Markets

Moderator: Kathryn Ibata-Arens