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Cognitive Enhancement? Exploring Modafinil use in Social Context

Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences

ISBN: 978-1-84855-880-9, eISBN: 978-1-84855-881-6

Publication date: 17 October 2011


This chapter takes the ‘wakefulness promoting’ drug modafinil as an exemplarity case in the sociology of pharmaceutical enhancement. The chapter draws on empirical data collected through 25 interviews with prospective users of modafinil, focusing on two of the ways in which prospective users of modafinil imagined how the drug might be used in their specific social domains: the use of modafinil as a safety tool in the workplace and its use as a study aid by university students. The data presented in this chapter suggests that although a therapy-enhancement dichotomy is a useful heuristic; it could also be limiting to uphold as it may direct attention away from other ways in which uses for new technologies can be positioned, negotiated, realised and resisted by (potential) users in the context of their daily lives.


Coveney, C.M. (2011), "Cognitive Enhancement? Exploring Modafinil use in Social Context", Pickersgill, M. and Van Keulen, I. (Ed.) Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 203-228.



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