Call for Papers From Medical Advocacy to the Production of Health-Related Social Engineering The sociology of collective action and mobilization is a recent stream of research in political science. NGOs, social movements, humanitarian action, the formation of new mobilizations (such as the homeless-persons movement), the transformation of feminist claims, etc. are typical of this research area. Numerous analyses have examined how these mobilizations occur, the strategies implemented to promote their actions and the framing of collective action. Persuasion issues are also an important part of the general context of these studies. More specifically, the double problem of the strength of claims made in academic discourse and the scientific objectivation of the claims forms the core of what defines the scope and effectiveness of collective action. These questions were first asked in gender studies. Many investigators have attempted to understand the role of biological sciences in the construction and perpetuation of gender inequality, and, conversely, trace how sexual-based social disparities have been conveyed in the scientific literature. Beyond the social entry in expert discourses, this issue of Quaderni will explore how claims made by advocates find a permanent place in discourse and are progressively objectivized, particularly in administrative and legal practices (whether in public or private spheres). Medical anthropology: a contribution to the sociology of collective action This approach requires that the claims of advocates are considered not as intrinsically subjective but as a product that can attain a degree of scientific legitimacy through concrete practices. To this end, one examines the transformation of claims into a stabilized objectivity by drawing on work conducted in other fields, apparently far removed from political science. Accordingly, we will pay particular attention to the methods and objects of medical anthropology methods as they are currently defined. The objective here is to show how this discipline may be of interest to and enrich the sociology of social mobilizations and public action. But why medical anthropology? One clear issue in medical anthropology has been to understand how to apply analytical tools to contemporary scientific medicine; i.e. to understand scientific discourse and emerging practices like any other unfamiliar or external object. Consequently, the establishment of a sustainable scientific objectivity is by definition the result of a process shaped within a local context, driven by specific stakeholders. If the research laboratory is a preferred object for anthropologists because of its esoteric nature, the production of a coherent system of standards has also been studied following other demarcations. Thus, the development of practices such as organ transplants, genetic diagnostics or hormonal therapies is analyzed according to social demarcations established by different social groups between health and disease, life and death, or men and women. It is therefore the entire rationality claimed by a group that forms the core of a critical analysis, showing, on the one hand, that the triumph of the modern Western medicine cannot be understood without taking into account ethical constructions, representations of women and local material cultures, or, on the other hand, that the success of new technologies and the other components of modern medicine provide a remarkable image of social and cultural phenomena in our societies. In addition to providing a better understanding of different intertwined social rationalities, medical anthropology has opened the door to the establishment of a multifaceted and long history of social objectivations, marked by transformations of material cultures and local consensuses that are continually being renegotiated. Collective mobilizations are therefore not simply the expression of a claim, they may also be an emerging objectivity (Introduction, Virginie Tournay (dir.) — La gouvernance des innovations médicales, PUF, 2007, Forthcoming). Objectifying social mobilizations: toward a typology of forms of collective action With this observation and independent of the object, the forms of persuasion developed by advocacy groups may lead to a full social integration of their claim as standardized guidelines or political rules. This call for papers focuses on how this leads to objectivation. It asks us to consider tangible and recurring bureaucratic objectivity outcomes, as well as the practical operators that govern this bureaucratic construction and ensure that is maintained over time. Many forms of action can be described, depending on the kind of social mobilization under consideration. For example, patient associations that call for the creation of a new nosological category (this was the case for myopathy and is still true for spasmophily) must above all convince a limited group of people (the scientific community) of the basis of their claim in order to obtain medical recognition. Similarly, the construction of AIDS as a group of predefined symptoms regularly mobilized informal forms of expertise. In another, similar case, the 2003 French heat wave produced a sustainable objectivation that required a wider circle of actors. Actually, to gain support, the claims made by emergency physicians that a weather event had provoked an abnormally high death rate required directly convincing political actors of the strength of their claim. We can therefore conclude that the credibility of a public health statement does not require the same level of proof as the announcement of a new category of disease. A third type of process for objectivation: certain social groups make moral statements to guarantee that certain parts of the human body are protected. For emerging medical practices such as cell therapy, ethical claims result in the establishment of tangible collective devices known as consent forms and, more generally speaking, practice guidelines. This form of collective action results from a succession of deliberations in various arenas. Far from being thorough, this list of forms of social mobilization highlights another type of concern that this issue of Quaderni will try to address: how do we understand failure or success in the objectivation of social claims, whether they begin in patient associations, a given type of health professional, or actors in civil society? So, taking our first example: why was the objectivation process for symptoms today known as “myopathy” successful (recognition by doctors, public policies, Telethon campaigns), as compared to spasmophilia, which still constitutes a poorly defined collection of symptoms that provokes controversy within the medical community? Combining the sociology of collective mobilizations and the sociology of public action by studying the production of a shared and sustainable conviction Studying this process leads to a very political set of issues that involve following action frameworks built by groups of actors and spokespersons as they make their claims. It provides a major point of interest. Understanding the claim objectivation process in interest groups is a means for combining the sociology of collective mobilizations and the sociology of public action, since it presupposes a link between the political power of claims made by advocates and their potential integration into public devices. Studying the implementation of medical objects (medical innovations: cellular therapy, new dsciplines: cancerology, etc.) on the basis of social claims is a relevant point of entry for grasping how social groups will be able to convince, i.e. produce shared collective evidence that can be directly integrated into public policies in the form of precepts or concrete operators. This call for papers is open to all areas of the social sciences and the humanities that are concerned with the objects mentioned above. However, it will only consider proposals adopting an anthropological approach (i.e., describing collectives and material cultures and their relationships with the human body as healthy, sick or transforming) that acts as the point of departure for strategies of persuasion. The proposals will be considered support for a theoretical reconsideration of how durable objectivity is formed. Particular attention will be paid to specific devices implemented by actors to prove the veracity of their claims. Among these devices, reference will be made to all the analyses surrounding the constitution of associative groups, the production of leadership, the generalization of administrative and scientific measurement tools, political technologies of persuasion (such as voting), the televised production of scientific performance, axioms inherited from the feminist movement, etc. Virginie Tournay. For Quaderni Journal. Abstracts shall not exceed 3,000 characters. In the body of the e-mail message, please provide the contributor’s name(s), department and professional affiliations, address, phone number and e-mail address. Proposals may be made in English or in French. Abstract deadline: June 30, 2007. All abstracts and proposals must be submitted using an electronic submission form. Send submissions to: [email protected] Submission of accepted papers (in English or French) by May 1, 2008