Purpose – Recent research on the modes of patient activism has displaced older notions of patients as passive, compliant subjects of biomedical power. This chapter expands…
Purpose – Recent research on the modes of patient activism has displaced older notions of patients as passive, compliant subjects of biomedical power. This chapter expands analyses of patient activism to examine the intersections between the processes of identity formation, the emergence of a new scientific field (human stem cell research), and political institutions.
Methodology – This chapter uses in-depth interviews, ethnographic techniques, and textual analyses to collect data regarding California's 2004 ballot initiative, Proposition 71, The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. Data were analyzed using a situational analysis approach. Situational analysis is a variant of grounded theory that organizes data in the form of maps of connections between actors and social worlds.
Findings – This chapter examines the content and significance of this event through the construction of a collective identity among supporters of Proposition 71, what I call “stem cell activists.” The construction of this collective identity serves as an important ground from which individuals and groups carve out political claims of self-representation. Stem cell activists also helped pass a controversial initiative through the efforts in publicly supporting Prop 71 and human stem cell research.
Research limitations – This research is limited in that it only examined individuals who became stem cell activists, and not individuals from whom this identity failed to gain salience. More research is needed to understand the conditions under which this identity becomes incorporated within a person's political repertoire.
Value of chapter – This chapter brings together theoretical perspectives on the symbolic aspects of identity construction and the political economy of biomedical science. This chapter will be of interest to scholars in medical sociology, science and technology studies, and social movement researchers.
This special section of Studies in Symbolic Interaction offers papers originally presented at the Second Anselm Strauss Colloquium, “Forty Years of Grounded Theory,” held…
This special section of Studies in Symbolic Interaction offers papers originally presented at the Second Anselm Strauss Colloquium, “Forty Years of Grounded Theory,” held at UC San Francisco on October 5, 2007.1 The colloquium celebrated several events: the 40th anniversary of The Discovery of Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Doctoral Program in Sociology at UCSF (1968), the centennial of the UCSF School of Nursing (2007), and the life and work of Anselm Strauss.2