Securing Futures in Cancer Research: Harnessing Risk and Negotiating Boundaries.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 46 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Alexandra HILLMAN, Wiserd, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Jamie LEWIS, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
This paper draws on literature from the sociology of expectations to explore accounts of UK experts in cancer research and clinical practice.  The cancer specialists’ accounts presented are taken from interviews undertaken as part of a project aimed at developing a research agenda for the next ten to thirty years in the four common cancers: (i) bowel and colorectal, (ii) prostate, (iii) lung and (iv) breast that will achieve early detection and prevention.  Drawing on secondary analysis of the interviews, this paper provides a sociological exploration of both the experts’ versions of the future and the interactions between the interviewer and research participant to show expectation in the making: the competing stories of what is and what ought to be the focus of cancer research now and in the (near) future. The building of a cancer research agenda is shown to be a contested future, represented by a dominant and resistant view of the cancer problem in which the promise of risk prediction and prevention jars with the complexity and uncertainty with which cancer presents itself both in the clinic and the laboratory.  Cancer specialists must engage in performative strategies (Michael 2000) and boundary work (Gieryn 1983; 1999) to frame the present problem: what cancer is and how it can be detected and, subsequently, to claim credibility for a future pathway.