Programme

(T095)
Sport, Technoscience, Medicine and Performance
Location 133
Date and Start Time 01 September, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Alex Faulkner (University of Sussex) email
  • Jennifer Hardes (Canterbury Christ Church University) email
  • Catherine Coveney (University of Sussex) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

Global and personal sport is ever more constituted through sciences, technologies and biologies. The track explores medicine, therapy, performance, equipment and more. Issues includie regulation, public spectacle, enhancement, therapeutic culture, fairness, welfare, embodiment.

Long Abstract

The scientisation and biologisation of sport raises many issues for STS. Sports are the site of extraordinary human endeavour, massive global operations and enormous social, personal, cultural and moral significance for consumers, practitioners and followers. Processes of industrialisation and marketisation encourage elite athletes to embrace extreme pressures, many addressed in sports science, sports medicine and biological sciences not only to diagnose, rehabilitate and prevent injury but also to push the body to maximum capacity, and to enhance performance. 'Sports science', advanced measurement and imaging technologies, nutritional science, molecular diagnostics, informatics, and more, are applied to these goals and also to game and competition strategy and sports' infrastructures. Genetics/genomics promises contentious possibilities for athlete selection, targeting and training. Developments such as the 'biological passport' highlight issues of governance, normativity and embodiment. The evidence-base for therapeutic and performance enhancement developments is limited, raising significant social, ethical and political questions regarding long term athlete welfare, structures of professional responsibility, evidence-based practice, and the requirements for, and potential limitations of, regulatory mechanisms.

The track invites proposals including but not limited to: shaping the athlete's body; prosthetic technology and 'disability sports'; technological advancement regulations and governance frameworks; amateur performance self-monitoring; athlete health and welfare; networks of scientific /medical sport advice; publics' engagement with sport medical science; materiality of sports equipment; sci-tech aspects of historical emergence of sporting practices; relationship of sci-tech to medical reasoning, and to sports law, ethics and regulation; cultural, societal and organisational variations; data secrecy/transparency; media representation.

SESSIONS: 4+5

This track is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Knowledge Contested and Knowledge Absent: NFL Concussion Data and Legal Outcomes

Author: Jennifer Croissant (University of Arizona)  email

Short Abstract

A recent class action settlement against the U.S. National Football League both discloses and withholds information about head injuries in "American" football. Agnotology (the study of ignorance) compares the production of knowledge/non-knowledge to other cases of producing uncertainty and doubt.

Long Abstract

A recent series of legal cases in the National Football League (United States, 2015) produced a class-action settlement which both discloses and withholds information about concussion and sub-concussive head impacts in "American" football. A detailed reading of case materials and media allows for examination of this as a case of agnotology (the study of ignorance). The production of knowledge and non-knowledge is similar to but different from other cases of producing uncertainty and doubt, which will be compared and contrasted. Several dimensions allow cross-case comparisons, but the role of football in U.S. configurations of masculinity add a layer of complexity to ideas about choice, risk, and consent to the pattern of disclosure/nondisclosure surrounding and resulting from the legal settlement.

Duelling, Prize Fighting, and Boxing: The Role of Medicine and Technology in a Shifting Legal Terrain

Author: Jennifer Hardes (Canterbury Christ Church University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the relation between law, medicine and technology in the construction of boxing as a legitimate legal practice in the 19th Century. This examination is framed in the wider social, political and economic context with reference to biopolitics (Agamben, 1998; Foucault, 1990, 2007)

Long Abstract

This paper situates the criminalization of duelling and prize fighting alongside the legitimation and rise of boxing in 19th Century England in the context of biopolitics (Agamben, 1998; Foucault, 1990, 2003, 2007, 2008). The criminalisation of some practices and the codification of others such as boxing via the introduction of the 1865 Queensberry Rules cannot simply be understood as a 'civilization process' through which the state acquired a monopoly on violence (Elias, 1937). Rather, there was an important intersection of medical and technical knowledge that legitimated the rise of new boxing techniques and technologies (gloves, time between rounds, and later weight divisions and compulsory medical examinations etc.). This medical and technical know-how was essential in shaping boxing's rationalisation as being in the 'public interest', without which boxing was likely to have continued to lose public and legal support based on its prior reputation as a blood sport. This legitimation from medical and technical experts helped carve a space for boxing to be excepted in the law in contrast to practices that were criminalized, outlined in the updated Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, which stated that individuals could not rationally consent to the harm of their person at the hands of another. Arguably this introduction of safety enhancing technologies alongside medical expertise and authority shaped boxing as a legitimate sport in which the practice could not be contested as that which 'intended' to harm or cause injury.

Integrating Science and Technology into Sports: A Case Study of Sports Innovations in Belgium

Author: Michiel Van Oudheusden (KU Leuven)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how science and technology (S&T) are enrolled into sports. Three field studies in Belgium are presented to illuminate how S&T-driven sports innovations raise ethical, legal, and social concerns about sports governance, athlete welfare, and the value of intuition in training.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the dynamic interplay between sports and innovation policies, research and development processes, and science-driven sports practices in Wallonia and Flanders (Belgium). Here, as in other countries and regions, the aim of integrating science and technology into sports is now a leading sports policy principle and innovation strategy. Building on science and technology studies (STS) tools and methods (vision assessment, multi-site ethnography, foresight), the paper draws out the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) induced by the use of new sciences and technologies in sports. These ELSI include the client-centered nature of sports science, which raises concerns about occupational control and athlete welfare, the uptake of genetic data in sports talent detection programs, and the challenges of coordinating "data-driven" and "intuitive" sports training approaches. It is argued that as sports are scientized and technologized, such ELSI demand to be addressed by sports innovators, governing bodies, and publics. By drawing critical attention to how sports are increasingly shaped by devices, data flows, and scientists, the paper states the case for bringing sports into STS and STS into sports.

Biomedicalisation and magic: regenerative therapies, evidence practices and faith healers in elite sport

Authors: Alex Faulkner (University of Sussex)  email
Catherine Coveney (University of Sussex)  email
Jonathan Gabe (Royal Holloway, University of London)  email
Mike McNamee (Swansea University)  email

Short Abstract

Elite sport bio-therapy practices are analysed in three primary aspects: commercialisation/corporatisation, evidence based medicine (EBM), and local medical cultures and beliefs. Ethical implications are drawn out.

Long Abstract

The high-pressure environment of elite sport is increasingly biomedicalised and scientised. A range of biological and regenerative cellular therapies such as stem cells and 'platelet-rich plasma' (PRP) is being debated, and in some cases these are being used therapeutically to treat injury and accelerate 'return to play'. International producers of regenerative products address sports medicine markets, for example as 'orthobiologics'. The paper draws on data from a current UK-focused research project, specifically using sociological and anthropological conceptual approaches, to analyse the emergence of bio-therapies in three primary dimensions of elite sport: commercialisation/corporatisation, evidence based medicine (EBM), and local medical cultures and beliefs. In spite of modest 'evidence' for efficacy, and widespread conservative medical policies, some innovative and controversial biotherapies are increasingly used, sometimes as intended, sometimes to counter or acquiesce to club/team and performer pressures. A strong conflict is seen on the one hand between EBM-style medical and physiotherapy practices, and on the other hand, athlete or manager-driven referral to practitioners who can be seen to have qualities of the shaman, witch doctor or faith healer. This analysis raises ethical conflicts for participants, such as medical accountability, reputation and trust, and short term return to play versus long term athlete welfare.

The project data include observation of sports medicine conferences, and interviews with sports medicine leads at English Premier League football clubs, orthopaedic surgeons, physicians and physiotherapists in cycling, sports association medical officials, and bio-therapy companies. Football (soccer) and professional cycling are the two main sports researched.

The Tour de Technoscience: Lance Armstrong and the Sociology of the Techno-Athlete

Author: Samuel Haraway (University of California, Davis)  email

Short Abstract

I argue that contemporary sport is best explained as "trials of strength" (Latour 1988) anchored in assemblages of laboratories, materials, bodies, knowledge, institutions and sponsorships. This conception of "techno-sport" raises additional questions concerning subjectivity, agency, and doping.

Long Abstract

This paper is a socio-historical study of the "techno-athlete" that treats Lance Armstrong's seven-consecutive Tour de France victories (1999-2005) and doping controversy as a case by which to reexamine questions concerning subjectivity, agency, and doping in sport. I first reconstruct sport as "trials of strength" (Latour 1988) between heterogenous actor-networks. Far from competitions between human individuals or symbolic representations of the "pure" body, what I call "techno-sport" is anchored in the assemblages of laboratories, materials, bodies, knowledge, institutions, sponsorships, and so on, by which contemporary sport unfolds. I then explore Armstrong's training for the 1999-2005 Tours de France as translations of the self by which aerodynamic science, nutrition regimes, clothing and equipment designs, periodized training methods, and blood-boosting techniques (by PEDs and altitude training alike), generate a techno-athlete who is at once distributed and centered by a heterogeneous network (Mialet 2012). By understanding sport as a material and collective process we can escape the myth of the singularized, heroic athlete around which the biopolitics of anti-doping expands today. I ask, what becomes of skilled performances, the subjectivity and agency of the contemporary athlete, in light of the heterogeneous collectivities through which contemporary sport unfolds?

The good ride: performing valuing practices in riding bike

Author: Robin Rae (University of Vienna)  email

Short Abstract

What is a good ride? When bike riding turns into a valuing practice, more than the object is valued and more than a body needed to do so. What is valued, I argue, are the effects of technological change on relations of human-technology-environment.

Long Abstract

This presentation explores how constant technological changes and developments in outdoor sports such as mountain biking are collectively valued through imagined and experienced performances. Performing outdoor sports inevitably includes and excludes certain environments, and vice versa. Current changes in mountain bike design are said to affect situated riding practices and to be materially accessible by the body simply through riding. What then is a good ride, for whom, and where? When the practice of bike riding turns (also) into a valuing practice, more than the object is valued and more than a body needed to do so. What is valued, I argue, are the effects of technological change on relations of human-technology-environment, thus enabling and irritating these through collective renegotiations.

Drawing on ethnographic data of bike sales and test-rides in California and Austria from my ongoing doctoral thesis, I aim to provide an understanding of how current technological changes of bicycles are valued in discursively and materially shaped environments of extended sales experiences. From interviews with shop personal and mobile ethnography of riders, i.e. riding along with talks during or after, insights to affects add to the material dimension of performing valuing practices. Calling attention to the local context serves to address the mobilizing background with and against which valuations of technological change are enabled and constrained in practice.

Technologies of fitness: CrossFit, body politics and embodied wellbeing.

Author: Ian Wellard (Canterbury Christ Church University)  email

Short Abstract

The fitness industry creates new forms of knowledge about the body influenced by science, health, consumer markets and social constructions of the fit body. Using Foucauldian theory and the example of CrossFit, an exploration of the technologies of fitness operating upon the individual is offered

Long Abstract

The recent rapid growth of the 'fitness industry' has created new knowledge about the body influenced by technologies of fitness that are informed by science, health imperatives, consumer markets and social constructions of the fit (or ideal) body (Pronger 2002). These new forms of knowledge generate complex relationships of power that are expressed internally and externally by individuals. However, these relationships of power are not presented as acts upon other individuals, they are, as Foucault (1978) suggests, actions upon another actions. Central to the formation of 'knowledge' about the body are technologies of fitness that are legitimised and sanctioned through claims of scientific 'truths'. By incorporating historical analysis of the emergence of ideas that were constructed in arbitrary ways, Foucault's genealogical approach revealed 'regimes of truth' (Foucault 1980:131) that were not consciously imposed by one dominant group over another but are constantly being reformulated through new ways of thinking. While it is not the intention in this paper, to present a genealogy of power within the context of health and fitness, the focus is, nevertheless, an attempt to understand the will to truth operating in relation to 'wellbeing' and individual pursuits of fitness. By using the example of CrossFit, and recent auto-ethnographic research conducted whilst taking part in a period of intensive CrossFit training, an exploration is made of the relationships of power that are informed by contemporary public policy, body politics, medical and scientific theory and broader discourses of contemporary western capitalism.

Cricket, Technology and the Politics of Speed

Author: Vidya Subramanian (Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU))  email

Short Abstract

The game of cricket has been transformed from being a sport to becoming a platform, built on a substrate of technologies such as the television and ICTs. This paper examines critically the intricacies of the influence of technology in cricket and the politics of speed that it appears to engender.

Long Abstract

In the shift from five-day long test matches to one-day games and then to Twenty20 formats, the game of cricket has undergone a profound reworking. From politics to colonialism, from connoisseur cricket to 'cricketainment', and from commercialisation to technological innovations; the transformations within cricket can be used as a metaphor for several transformations within society. While there has been a great deal of discussion centred on cricket, there has not been much of an emphasis on the implications of technology on the game. This gap has been made more palpable by the ever increasing use of technology in almost every aspect of the game—from playing to umpiring to broadcast. The television, one of the great strides in the development of electronic technology, has become, in a manner of speaking, the raison d'être for a sports event—cricket or otherwise. My work attempts to examine critically the intricacies of the influence of technology in cricket and the politics of speed that it appears to engender. I will attempt to examine how technology has impacted, facilitated, and spurred a ruptural transformation within the sport of cricket, altering its internal biology and reassembling the sport as a platform. Further, I wish to examine how the idea of cricket has been influenced by the politics of speed, how the playing 'field' has been transformed along with the idea of the spectator, and how a sporting-entertainment complex has replaced the traditional idea of sport.

Qualculation, Non-Qualculation and DAPS or How big-data surprisingly generated scared spaces in Professional Basketball

Author: Adir Wanono (Bar-Ilan University)  email

Short Abstract

My paper calls attention to the surprisingly simultaneous growth in both calculative thinking and non-calculative behaviors in basketball and argues that the employment of big-data in the NBA and the emergence of scared spaces didn’t materialize by coincidence but curiously one constituted the other.

Long Abstract

Big-data analysis postulates on numeric thinking (Porter, 1995) and STS studies surely illuminate the complex relationship between human and non-humans in many spatial-temporal frames. However, further to Callon & Law (2003) hypothesis, I will call attention to the surprisingly simultaneous growth in both calculative thinking and non-calculative behaviors in professional basketball. Specifically, I will argue that the increasing employment of calculative thinking in the NBA did not only come about at the same time with non-calculative activities, but that one is constitutive of the other, that the entanglement of new actors in calculative thinking initiated the emergence of scared spaces in the NBA, and vice-versa.

Basketball is not a special case and can teach us a few lessons on the relationships between actors in society all together.

The proposed paper aims to reveal the material and discursive arrangements that allow basketball coaches and players to create incalculabilities and how they are being challenged. Furthermore, I will suggest that similar to making calculabilities, making incalculabilities is also not trivial and that it might be much harder to create such sacred spaces in networks that are heavily entangled in calculative thinking like professional basketball. Callon & Law point out on two contrasting strategies of creating in-calculabilities (rarefication and proliferation) and the proposed paper will discuss how both are applicable to professional basketball.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.