The alchemy of clinical trials

Will, Catherine M (2007) The alchemy of clinical trials. BioSocieties, 2 (1). pp. 85-99. ISSN 1745-8552

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Abstract

This article considers the complex construction of randomized controlled trials that lies behind the rhetoric of the gold standard. Drawing on insights from Science and Technology Studies and empirical material, I argue that trials in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention are constituted as ‘research’ rather than ‘science’. In these examples, control emerges out of a dual concern with practices of purification and involvement of aspects of the world outside the experiment, as the designers of trials aspire to relevance as well as rigour. Such strategies of ‘contextualization’ mean that trials are more like alchemy than assay, proceeding by complex moves to transform ‘base’ matters rather than distilling elements of clinical practice.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: Catherine Will
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:52
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2012 11:17
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28547
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