The surveillance of cellular scientists' practice

Article English OPEN
Lewis, Jamie Thornton ; Atkinson, Paul Anthony (2011)

We discuss a set of practices surrounding the creation of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) performed within a cell laboratory. This process exemplifies a wider imperative to render visible the work of laboratory science. The creation of visibly accountable practices in turn reflects and reinforces the wider trend towards standardisation of cell practice. Standards themselves have thus become some of the artefacts created in laboratories, biobanks and other sites of biomedical work. Such processes of visibility and accountability translate the local, craft practices of laboratory work – often tacitly performed and transmitted – into explicit forms of knowledge production and regulation. Where once, however, laboratory work depended to a large degree on trust, newer modes of regulation impose new layers of mutual surveillance. Visibility is enhanced through technologies of inspection and surveillance, by increased volumes of self-documentation and by the imposition of regulatory protocols. Together these transform what was once implicit in the working practices of trusted professionals into explicitly accountable practices. Therefore the achievement of GMP accreditation is one example of the current imperative towards reflexive-accountability where new trans(national) monitoring technologies create new regimes of surveillance in biomedical science.
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