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Date: 17 April 2007

Ethnographies of Diagnostic Work

Venue: Institute for Advanced Studies, 17-18 April 2007

In assosication with: PALCOM, Centre for Science Studies, Department of Sociology, Institute for Health Research, ICR, Centre for Medical Education and the Institute for Advanced Studies.

Call for Participation

The ability to notice trouble and see scope for remedial action is crucial in many different contexts of work. Doctors, mechanics, help-line operators, firefighters, experimental scientists, the police, teachers, surveyors, computer programmers, and many other professionals do it. Diagnoses are often both difficult to produce and hard to communicate. Although frequently conceived as a 'moment' of cognition, diagnosis can also be seen as a material, collaborative process involving expert skills, careful sensory and sensitive engagement with human agencies (e.g. in medical consultations, teaching or policing), and non-human agencies (e.g. physiological or material 'actants', 'bugs' in computer code, etc.). Some activities involve rational everyday knowledge, some demand 'scientific' epistemic practices - e.g. measurement, experiment and intervention, representations and calculations, and some also require other, creative, emotional and intuitive ways of knowing. Diagnostic practices are a pervasive and important feature of contemporary life. They matter, not least because it is through diagnosing and diagnoses that different perspectives - e.g. novices and experts, users, developers and designers, patients and healthcare professionals - meet. Diagnostic practices are integral to any move towards change. A deeper and broader understanding of diagnosing practices is highly desirable.

In this workshop, we seek to explore and discuss ethnographic, engaged or ethnomethodological studies of diagnostic work in any domain of human activity.


Email:Monika Busher( Dawn Goodwin(

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Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Sociology


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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