Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Science, women and ambivalence : an actor-network analysis of the Cervical Screening Programme.
Author: Singleton, Vicky.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3416 0844
Awarding Body: University of Lancaster
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 1992
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
The thesis constructs a series of dialogues between three entities -a medical intervention known as the Cervical Screening Programme (CSP), an approach to the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge known as Actor-Network Theory (ANT), and Feminist Approaches to Science. It focuses on the relationship between medical science and women. The CSP aims to detect pre-cancerous changes in women's cervices, allowing for their treatment and the prevention of cervical cancer. It has been running in Britain for twenty-six years and there is widespread consensus that it is a triumph of medical science, indispensible to women's health. However, it is also referred to as a 'failure', due to continued cervical cancer mortality. Moreover, there are claims that it may do more harm than good. The CSP has two contradictory histo }s The CSP is constructed as an actor-network - as a network of associations between human and non-human entities, each assigned a position in the network and a role to play. The CSP emerges as constructed through the intermingling of concepts from scientific/social/natural/political/economic repertoires. Such 'heterogeneous engineering' becomes imperceptible as entities adhere totheir assigned roles, and their associations prove durable. The CSP actor-network, with its defintions of entities such as woman and cervical cancer, becomes indispensible. Drawing upon fieldwork data, including discussions with members of the various groups involved in the CSP, limitations and benefits of the ANT approach are highlighted. ANT offers a way of conceptualising how the CSP was constructed and becomes indispensable, but occludes the controversy, ambivalence and multiplicity of identities that characterise the CSP and maintain it. ANT is developed to incorporate these characteristics. The thesis then draws upon feminist approaches to science to develop ANT further. It investigates commonalities and tensions between ANT and feminist approaches, in particular feminst postmodernism. It maps how the two areas of study have evolved in parallel, yet face similar dilemmas at this historical moment. Most importantly, that of how to speak for and represent others without, at once, silencing and homogenising those others. The ambivalence and multiplicity of identity that ensures the practicality of the CSP echoes that of many feminsts and sociologists. The thesis suggests that ambivalence is not only inevitable, but necessary for the development of theorising.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology