Hybrid bodies and the materiality of everyday life: how people living with pacemakers and defibrillators reinvent everyday routines and intimate relations

Nelly Oudshoorn* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Technologies inside bodies pose new challenges in a technological culture. For people with pacemakers and defibrillators, activities such as passing security controls at airports, using electromagnetic machines, electrical domestic appliances and electronic devices, and even intimate contacts with their loved ones can turn into events where the proper functioning of their device may be at risk. Anticipation of potentially harmful events and situations thus becomes an important part of the choreography of everyday life. Technologies inside bodies not only pose a challenge for patients living with these devices but also to theorising body-technology relations. Whereas researchers usually address the merging of bodies and technologies, implants ask us to do the opposite as well. How are we to understand human-technology relations in which technologies should not entangle with bodies because they serve other purposes? Based on a study of the daily life practices of people with pacemakers and defibrillators in the Netherlands and the US, I argue that disentanglement work, i.e. work involved to prevent entanglements with objects and people that may inflict harm upon implanted devices, is key to understanding how hybrid bodies can survive in today's densely populated technological landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-187
Number of pages17
JournalSociology of health & illness
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date15 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • body
  • STS (science and technology studies)
  • biomedicine

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