Publication details for Dr. Tiago MoreiraMoreira, Tiago (2004). Self, Agency and the Surgical Collective: detachment. Sociology of Health & Illness 26(1): 32-49.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0141-9889, 1467-9566
- DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2004.00377.x
- Keywords: self, agency, surgery, surgical, recovery, actor network theory
- View online: Online version
- Durham research online: DRO record
Author(s) from Durham
In this article, I describe the socio-technical organisation of surgical rehabilitation. After having gone through surgical intervention, patients are implicated within various types of medical work aimed at adjusting their bodies to post-operative social and material environments. My argument is that the process of re-establishment of a 'self' is mediated through a re-disposition of agency in the socio-technical ensemble upon which the patient depends immediately after surgery.
Drawing on one year of ethnographic fieldwork in a neurosurgical clinic, and theoretical resources from science and technology studies, this paper is an attempt to describe how, within surgical post-operative practices, the relational dynamics of social and material components endorsed within those practices may re-institute patients' sense of themselves, and re-organise their relationship with the world and other people. In surgery, the outcome of this dynamic process is the reorganisation of forms of agency for the patient. I will refer to this reorganisation as 'detachment'. It is my contention that this research may contribute to the literature on the experience of chronic illness by specifying the socio-technical conditions for the local achievement of self and agency.