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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Law John

Law Jonh

Honorary Professor, Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University (LU), Department of Sociology, Bowland North, Lancaster University, LA14YN Lancaster, UK.


Embodied Action, Enacted Bodies. The Example of Hypoglycaemia / Logos. 2017. № 2 (117). P. 233-262
annotation:  The authors of the paper reinvent the notion of the body. The authors propose a shift from substantial conceptions of the body to processual conceptions, i.e. to a body we do. Through what practices are bodies enacted? The article refers to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar level. In the case of a diabetic, knowledge of hypoglycemia is not restricted to a condition of blood, as he or she immersed in practices by which hypoglycemia is done: a diabetic a) registers hypoglycemia through self-awareness; b) counters it by taking carbohydrates; c) avoids it by maintaining a target sugar level; d) producesit if the recommended target sugar level turns out too low (to counter hyperglycemia). These practices take place in the patient’s body as well as outside of it. Hypoglycemia includes not only self-awareness, but also carb charts, a glucometer, dextrose and witnesses who notice hypoglycemia first. The body-we-do has semi-permeable boundaries, as some processes are incorporated, others excorporated. A body is a whole, but not a coherent whole, rather a range of tensions between processes: interests of different organs (low sugar is healthy, but one risks hypoglycemia, which causes brain damage); sugar level regulation and unpredictable jumps; the wish to live a full life. The aim of the body-we-do is to find a balance between tensions. The aim of medicine is to see a patient not as a passive but as an active body made through numerous practices. Zen medical invasion will cease to be considered an invasion into bodily tissues, intervening in one parameter, and will become clearly what it always was — an intervention into human life, not always yielding improvement.
Keywords:  ethnography; modern medicine; body; body practices; diabetes; hypoglycaemia; self-awareness

Law John

Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences,
Open University, PO Box 197, MK7 6BJ Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.


Technology and heterogeneous engineering: the case of Portuguese expansion / Logos. 2018. № 5 (126). P. 169-202
annotation:  Based on historical materials about the technology of the 15th and 16th century Portuguese maritime expansion, the author shows that in order to understand the emergence, functioning, and collapse of technological systems we need to develop an approach that will be centred on the notion of heterogeneous engineering. Heterogeneous engineering presupposes that the building of technological systems involves associating and channelling diverse entities and forces, both human and nonhuman. This permits an analysis of how the existence of particular systems is shaped equally by different factors: natural, social, economic, and technical. In the case of Portuguese maritime expansion, the success of system-building was determined by the association between shipbuilding; the navigational skills of the navigators; navigational equipment and guns; features of the capes, oceanic currents, and winds; and the system of state support, training, and regulation - all of which made possible the establishment of a stable and powerful network that allowed the Portuguese to dominate the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Therefore, the construction of a technological system is a process of resolving conflicts between heterogeneous elements, and the associated elements must be able to withstand encounters with hostile forces and entities, both physical (e.g. oceans) and social (e.g. the Muslims). The systems approach proposed by the author shows, first, that technology can be analysed using the principle of generalized symmetry, which states that the same type of analysis should be made for all components in a system whether these components are human or not; and, second, that actors should be understood as entities that exert detectable influence on other entities.
Keywords:  technological system; heterogeneous engineering; maritime navigation; sociology of technology; actor-network theory
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