The Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance: Applying Theory to Practice

Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Staff: Clare Chandler, Eleanor Hutchinson, Coll Hutchison

Funding: Wellcome Trust, 2015

Summary: The aim of this seed award is to open up new perspectives on antimicrobial resistance through the application of theories from the social sciences. Substantial bodies of work have the potential for application to the problem of AMR. Through a review of literature and engagement with a range of scientists we intend to stimulate new avenues to approach the problem of AMR.

Read our report ‘Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance Through Social Theory: An Anthropologically Oriented Report’ and our Conference abstracts from ‘Constructing Antimicrobial Resistance: A Workshop’ held in August 2016.

Project Details: Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) is one of the greatest threats to life as we know it. Either through dramatic policy change and intense programming or conversely through inaction, it is set to re-configure our relationship with medicines and have a profound impact on the possibilities for care and health around the globe. Governments and global agencies recognise this and priorities in responding to AMR are currently being consolidated within and between nations. These focus on replacing existing medicines and changing patterns of medicine use through technological innovations and behavioural incentives. Despite the social and political nature of pharmaceuticals and their use, there is a surprising lack of input from the social sciences in the development of these policies. This risks programming that will lack sensitivity and responsiveness to global and local consequences of these grand scale acts and imperatives. There is great potential to learn from the considerable theoretical work across the social sciences to provide a broader and richer conceptual map through which effective strategies to tackle AMR could be created. The aim of this seed award is to open up different perspectives on responses to AMR through (1) a documentary review of current global policy on AMR, (2) a review of theoretically complex bodies of social science literature of relevance to AMR, including science and technology studies, the making of global health, pharmaceuticalisation, medicalisation, materiality and development, and (3) engagement with a range of scientists and policy makers on the construction of AMR.

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