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Making Sense: Markets from Stories in New Breast Cancer Therapeutics.

Sophie Mützel will present central findings of her new book coming out in December 2022 (Stanford University Press): “Making Sense: Markets from Stories in New Breast Cancer Therapeutics.” at the médialab seminar.

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Paris, 1 Saint-Thomas d'Aquin

Summary

"Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and a leading cause of death for women worldwide. With advances in molecular engineering in the 1980s, hopes of patients and industry began to rise that a non-toxic and non-invasive treatment for breast cancer could be developed. Yet cancer drug development is notoriously difficult: Molecules once hailed “the holy grail of cancer research” after initially showing promising results in clinical trials, turn out to be ineffective after all. As researchers, competing biotechnology companies, their industry and financial analysts publicly evaluate scientific findings and grapple with many uncertainties over years of product development, they tell stories, which raise patients’ hopes and investors’ attention. Collaboratively the involved actors make meaning about themselves and others, their research approaches, as well as the future. Stories thus shape the emerging market of breast cancer therapeutics.

Making Sense: Markets from Stories in New Breast Cancer Therapeutics traces the evolution of “innovative breast cancer therapeutics” beginning from the late 1980s until 2010 through the lens of the narratives of the involved actors. Combining theories of economic and cultural sociology, the book shows how stories are integral for the emergence of new markets: stories of the future create a market of expectations prior to any existing products; stories also help to create categories on what such a new market and its products are about. Making Sense uses thousands of press statements, media reports, scientific reports, and financial and industry analyses to illustrate these mechanisms, presenting a fresh view of how life-prolonging innovations can be turned into market products."

Biography

Sophie Mützel is Professor of Sociology, Media and Networks at the Department of Sociology, University of Lucerne, Switzerland. Currently, she leads the MA program «Media and Networks», is co-initiator of the MA Computational Social Sciences (LuMACCS), and is also Vice Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Her research interests lie in the areas economic sociology, the sociology of culture, computational text analytic methods, sociology of the digital, social network analysis and sociological theory. Her recent book “Making Sense: Markets from Stories in New Breast Cancer  Therapeutics”, published by Stanford University Press, will be out in December 2022. In Spring 2021 Sophie Mützel received SNSF funding for “Digital payments: Making payments personal and social.” In April 2021 she concluded another SNSF/NRP75 funded research project “Facing Big Data: Methods and skills needed for a 21st century sociology".