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Studies of Medicine, Expertise and Controversy (SMEC)

Theory of Science at the University of Gothenburg has a long tradition of empirical studies of science in close connection with other disciplines studying the same object. Psychologists, sociologists, and historians of science have been co-partners over the years in various research projects. The theoretical and methodological resources are to a large extent localized in the international field of Science and Technology Studies (STS).

Studies of Medical Knowledge, Expertise and Controversy (SMEC) is an initiative coordinated by Professor in Theory of Science Margareta Hallberg. Broadly, SMEC covers studies of the interaction of medical science, practice, policy and public understanding in areas of controversy involving claims to expertise. In addition to Professor Hallberg, the SMEC group consists of Professor Emeritus Aant Elzinga, Ph.D student Amelie Hoshor, Assistant Professor Dick Kasperowski, Associate Professor Fredrik Bragesjö, Researcher Lena Eriksson and Assistant Professor Morten Sager. During the last years, the group has had research collaborations with Associate Professor Bengt Brülde, Assistant Professor Eva-Marie Rigné, Professor Gunnel Hensing, Ph.D Gunilla Priebe and Associate Professor Ingemar Bohlin.

Through Kasperowski’s coordinative work and research within one of the prioritized research areas at the University of Gothenburg, SMEC has also established connections with the LETstudio at the Faculty of Education and the University of Gothenburg’s Centre for Person-Centred Care (GPCC)

Topics hitherto have included diagnostic categories (autism, ADHD, pain syndromes), standard setting in science and policy, stem-cell science, and vaccination. The SMEC-group has also developed analytical tools for general science and technology studies. Several recent projects have involved external (among others the Swedish Research Council) funding: the controversy on the linking of MMR-vaccination and autism; sexual abuse of children – a meta-study of acting parties, social consequences and the construction of problems; knowledge of antibiotic resistance. Several doctoral dissertations have been written or are underway within SMEC. Spinoffs have involved work in reports commissioned by public agencies. Within Gothenburg University collaborations exist with health science, pedagogy and sociology, nationally with STS-scholars at universities of Linköping, Örebro and Uppsala, and beyond that with York University (UK). You will find a presentation of these and other projects by SMEC, listed in the left column.

Work done by the SMEC-group overlaps with earlier and current scholarship in Science Policy Studies (SPS): the governance of science and technology, the interplay between science and policy, and public understanding of science. Topics include financing and quality assessment of research, polar research, the regulation of internet, and the application of science in sport. Additional interests are mathematics education, and the global transfer of academic culture. A presentation of Professor Hallberg’s and the SMEC group’s research can be found here in an article in International Innovation.

Upcoming Workshop in April 2012

Optimising health in Europe through evidence-based practices: The use of expertise, standards and technologies in health promotion and preventive medicine. A International Workshop (in the making), to be organized by the SMEC group

This is the working title of a workshop we wish to hold in April 2012 as a step on the way towards developing a grant proposal to meet the criteria of an appropriate EU framework call in the area of health policy and governance. For a description of the workshop and a position paper written by the group, click here.

SMEC at the Annual 4S Conference November 2-5, 2011

The annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) will this year be held in Cleveland, Ohio. The SMEC-group will present a paper in a session called "Personalizing Medicine: Futures, Past and Present", organized by Richard Tutton (Lancaster University, UK) and Michelle McGowan (Case Western Reserve University). The paper delivered by SMEC is called "Between evidence, persons, and things: Travelling, affordance and governance of expertise in personalized medicine". The abstract can be found here.


Page Manager: Monica Havström|Last update: 5/31/2011

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