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QuantifiedBiosensing Technologies in Everyday Life$
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Dawn Nafus

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034173

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034173.001.0001

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Do Biosensors Biomedicalize? Sites of Negotiation in DNA-Based Biosensing Data Practices

Do Biosensors Biomedicalize? Sites of Negotiation in DNA-Based Biosensing Data Practices

(p.5) 1 Do Biosensors Biomedicalize? Sites of Negotiation in DNA-Based Biosensing Data Practices

Mette Kragh-Furbo

Adrian Mackenzie

Maggie Mort

Celia Roberts

The MIT Press

This chapter analyses what happens to data in 'direct-to-consumer' genetic tests. The distributed forms of work surrounding this data make it anything but ‘direct-to-consumer’. The chapter addresses the indirectness of biosensing in this case by attending to two different sites. It describes how the DNA microarray-based biosensing underpinning such tests assembles a plurality of forms, standards, knowledges, devices and skills to reshape data as a highly-leveraged entity. While DNA-based biosensing might appear as another step in normalizing or 'biomedicalizing' human lives, deep epistemic, technical, relational and social instabilities pervade this practice. These instabilities range from DNA’s sensitivity to biological processes around it, to the uncertainty that practices of DIY sense-making negotiate. The chapter shows how, in working to make sense of their genetic data, people living with a chronic illness learn how to ‘practice prediction’, an activity that can best be described as improvised practice in which the body must be prioritised. The instabilities encountered are managed because this is done with care.

Keywords:   biomedicalization, DNA microarrays practice, direct-to-consumer, chronic illness, care, DIY, uncertainty

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