Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge (Medicine and Society)


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Discussion Questions What is the paradox identified by Dennis Altman and how does he explain it? How did different conceptions of public health come to a head over the issue of testing? Did AIDS improve gay rights or impinge them? What were the consequences of cooperation between gay organizations and the state? How and why did AIDS treatment activism become a major issue?

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How did AIDS treatment activists constitute themselves as credible participants in the process of knowledge construction described by Steven Epstein? What does Epstein conclude about participatory knowledge making in biomedicine? How can it be argued that AIDS treatment activism has had broader impacts on biomedicine? What obstacles did the group face? What techniques did the group use and how did their activities and messages promote boundary-crossing and the contesting of images?


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Steven Epstein

In the event we determine, at our discretion, that there is an abuse of the Free Shipping Program of any kind, we reserve the right to cancel, suspend, terminate, recover or recall orders, deliveries, payments and accounts deemed in abuse. In the short, turbulent history of AIDS research and treatment, the boundaries between scientist insiders and lay outsiders have been crisscrossed to a degree never before seen in medical history.


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  • Steven Epstein's astute and readable investigation focuses on the critical question of "how certainty. Steven Epstein's astute and readable investigation focuses on the critical question of "how certainty is constructed or deconstructed," leading us through the views of medical researchers, activists, policy makers, and others to discover how knowledge about AIDS emerges out of what he calls "credibility struggles.

    Epstein finds that nonscientist AIDS activists have gained enough of a voice in the scientific world to shape NIH-sponsored research to a remarkable extent. Because of the blurring of roles and responsibilities, the production of biomedical knowledge about AIDS does not, he says, follow the pathways common to science; indeed, AIDS research can only be understood as a field that is unusually broad, public, and contested. He concludes by analyzing recent moves to democratize biomedicine, arguing that although AIDS activists have set the stage for new challenges to scientific authority, all social movements that seek to democratize expertise face unusual difficulties.

    Avoiding polemics and accusations, Epstein provides a benchmark account of the AIDS epidemic to date, one that will be as useful to activists, policy makers, and general readers as to sociologists, physicians, and scientists.

    Table of Contents for: Impure science : AIDS, activism, and the

    Steven Epstein s astute and readable investigation focuses on the critical question of "how certainty is constructed or deconstructed," leading us through the views of medical researchers, activists, policy makers, and others to discover how knowledge about AIDS emerges out of what he calls "credibility struggles. Epstein finds that nonscientist AIDS activists have gained enough of a voice in the scientific world to shape NIH—sponsored research to a remarkable extent.

    Because of the blurring of roles and responsibilities, the production of biomedical knowledge about AIDS does not, he says, follow the pathways common to science; indeed, AIDS research can only be understood as a field that is unusually broad, public, and contested. He concludes by analyzing recent moves to democratize biomedicine, arguing that although AIDS activists have set the stage for new challenges to scientific authority, all social movements that seek to democratize expertise face unusual difficulties.

    Avoiding polemics and accusations, Epstein provides a benchmark account of the AIDS epidemic to date, one that will be as useful to activists, policy makers, and general readers as to sociologists, physicians, and scientists. SlideShare Explore Search You.

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      Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge (Medicine and Society) Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge (Medicine and Society)
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      Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge (Medicine and Society) Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge (Medicine and Society)

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