From Risk to Uncertainty in Emerging Treatment Markets: A Sociological Analysis

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 46 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Alan PETERSEN, Monash University, Australia
Casimir MACGREGOR, Monash University, Australia
Christine PARKER, Monash University, Australia
This paper seeks to sociologically examine the concept of ‘uncertainty’ within the context of emerging treatment markets. By examining interviews, and documentary material relating to the advertising, marketing and the provision of anti-ageing treatments and unproven stem cell treatments, we aim to explore the sociological significance of uncertainty in the dynamics of emerging treatment markets. Emerging treatment markets are characterised by a situation of unpredictability that by its character is difficult to govern. On the one hand, as our research has revealed, those considering undertaking an unproven stem cell treatment cite uncertainty about benefits and safety as the reason for not undertaking treatment. This conceptualisation of uncertainty differs from risk, which by its strict definition, is calculable and hence governable. For marketers, on the other hand, uncertainty about regulation and/or the science has proved valuable, in assisting the advertising of treatments. Our research highlights the difficulties of governing markets characterised by uncertainty, which needs to be acknowledged in efforts to explain the dynamics of emerging treatment markets. We conclude by discussing the implications of our analysis for a sociological conceptualisation of uncertainty.