Article ID: CBB486735939

Data as promise: Reconfiguring Danish public health through personalized medicine (August 2019)


Hoeyer, Klaus (Author)

Social Studies of Science
Volume: 49
Issue: 4
Pages: 531-555

Publication Date: August 2019
Edition Details: Special Issue: From Person to Population and Back: Exploring Accountability in Public Health
Language: English

‘Personalized medicine’ might sound like the very antithesis of population science and public health, with the individual taking the place of the population. However, in practice, personalized medicine generates heavy investments in the population sciences – particularly in data-sourcing initiatives. Intensified data sourcing implies new roles and responsibilities for patients and health professionals, who become responsible not only for data contributions, but also for responding to new uses of data in personalized prevention, drawing upon detailed mapping of risk distribution in the population. Although this population-based ‘personalization’ of prevention and treatment is said to be about making the health services ‘data-driven’, the policies and plans themselves use existing data and evidence in a very selective manner. It is as if data-driven decision-making is a promise for an unspecified future, not a demand on its planning in the present. I therefore suggest interrogating how ‘promissory data’ interact with ideas about accountability in public health policies, and also with the data initiatives that the promises bring about. Intensified data collection might not just be interesting for what it allows authorities to do and know, but also for how its promises of future evidence can be used to postpone action and sidestep uncomfortable knowledge in the present.

Associated with

Article Klaus Hoeyer; Susanne Bauer; Martyn Pickersgill (August 2019) Datafication and accountability in public health: Introduction to a special issue. Social Studies of Science (pp. 459-475). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Bauer, Susanne
Pickersgill, Martyn
Hoeyer, Klaus
D'Adesky, Anne-Christine
Hawgood, Barbara J.
Carpenter, Elise Audrey
Social Studies of Science
Science, Technology and Human Values
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Journal of Medical Biography
University of Pennsylvania
University of Chicago Press
Technoscience; science and technology studies
Public health
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Health care
Big data
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
Great Britain
Accountable Care Organizations (Medical care)
World Health Organization (WHO)

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