In the mood for science: A discussion of emotion management in a pharmacogenomics research encounter in Denmark

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We investigated the practices through which patients in treatment for depression become research subjects in pharmacogenomics research in Denmark. On the basis of an ethnographic study of research subject participation taking place between May 2006 and August 2007, we conceptualized the efforts made by both researchers and research subjects at the research encounter as emotion management, through which the raw material of pharmacogenomics research is created. The study demonstrates that management of emotions in the research encounter is necessary to secure high quality data and simultaneously produces new relations of exchange – exchanges we view as important fuel in the generation of biovalue. In bringing this analysis into dialogue with the bioethical emphasis on altruism, we challenge the assumption that research participation comes about by linking already available, that is, ‘altruistic’, individuals to research institutions. We suggest that the emotion management taking place in the research encounter and the relations of exchange established through it actualize behavior we recognize as ‘altruistic’. We conclude that there is no morally relevant conflict between ‘altruistic behaviour’ and the production of exchange relations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)781-788
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ID: 32929979