This article critically examines the significance of relational approaches for sociological understandings of clinical interactions, relations and practices, by exploring the ways in which relational theories and concepts have been employed in the recent sociological accounts of clinical encounters to trouble the classical dyadic models of clinical interaction and the related atomistic conceptions of agency and accountability. Reading this work through the theoretical contributions from feminist science studies scholarship, and particularly the work of Donna Haraway and Karen Barad, the article proposes an alternative understanding of clinical interactions, relations and practices, where relations are conceived as constitutive of individuals (objects/bodies and their attributes/identities), rather than being constituted by encounters between individuals. Key for this understanding is the reconceptualisation of clinical encounter as an apparatus of bodily production through which different agents (patients, clinicians, diseases and healthcare services) are materialised and enacted.
I would like to thank all the patients and staff for their collaboration in the study and to acknowledge the other members of the team: James N’Dow and Sara MacLennan for their helpful guidance. I am grateful to Zoë Skea and Vikki Entwistle for the early discussions of the paper, to Natasha Mauthner and Lorna McKee for their insightful comments to various drafts, and to two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful suggestions, which helped to clarify its argument.
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the funding bodies
or any other organisation.
- clinical interaction