Article ID: CBB339833803

In Search of a Problem: Mapping Controversies over NHS (England) Patient Data with Digital Tools (2019)


There is a long history in science and technology studies (STS) of tracking problematic objects, such as controversies, matters of concern, and issues, using various digital tools. But what happens when public problems do not play out in these familiar ways? In this paper, we will think through the methodological implications of studying “problems” in relation to recent events surrounding the sharing of patient data in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. When a data sharing agreement called was announced in 2013, nearly 1.5 million citizens chose to opt out. Yet, in subsequent years, there has been little evidence of a robust public mobilising around data sharing. We will attempt to track this elusive ‘non problem’ using some digital tools developed in STS for the purpose of mapping issues and problem definitions within science. Although we find these digital tools are unable to capture the “problem,” the process of searching helps us map the terrain of the case and forces us to consider wider definitions.

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Authors & Contributors
Henry, Emmanuel
Ziewitz, Malte
Pelizza, Annalisa
Włodzimierz Gogołek
Kris Hartley
Cook, Brian R.
Science, Technology and Human Values
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Social Studies of Science
Technoscience; science and technology studies
Power (social sciences)
Science and politics
Information technology
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
Hong Kong
Great Britain
National Cancer Institute (U.S.)

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