This panel pushes beyond traditional bioethical regimes to highlight situated, contested and contingent moral understandings of good practice in biomedical research and settings of biomedical care. How do experts contend with stratified and stratifying biomedical technologies and practices?
This panel explores understandings of good practice in two interrelated scientific domains: biomedical research and settings of biomedical care. Following Fortun & Fortun (2005), we attend to the subjectivities of biomedical scientists, physicians, nurses, patient navigators, expert activists, and policy makers. These papers trace how these actors "understand, strategize, and take responsibility for their own situatedness in social context" (Fortun & Fortun, 2005: 44), how they come to define for themselves 'good' care or science 'worth doing', and the ethical or moral choreography that this entails (Thompson, 2013). With ethnographic care, we detail how these actors craft understandings of their professional missions, their responsibilities and obligations, what kinds of research questions should be asked, whose needs must be prioritized, what unintended consequences are acceptable, and what can legitimately be left 'un-done'. We are especially interested in how these actors contend with stratified and stratifying biomedical technologies and practices. Further, we explore how their notions of good practice are entangled with the production of broader understandings of bodily, differences, inequalities in health and care, and visions of justice in these settings. In doing so, we move toward a framework that pushes beyond traditional bioethical regimes to highlight more situated, contested and contingent moral dimensions that underpin understandings of good practice in these domains. These ethnographies amplify currents in STS that have unraveled the universality and neutrality of biomedicine and more recently bioethics to show how they are inflected by the moral commitments and situated subjectivities of biomedical scientists and healthcare providers.