‘Uncertainty do…

‘Uncertainty does not exist in the absolute but only in relation to order. The more differentiated the order, the more
uncertainty appears. Conversely, uncertainty defines what is ordered and known. Elaborate rules and rituals are developed to prevent uncertainty, to minimize it, to attribute responsibility for it, and to eliminate it. In particular, we have replaced symbolic spiritualism with scientific materialism and therefore no longer “see” the symbolic role of our ideas about
it. We are not even aware of our own rituals, which frame, aid, and ultimately formulate and modify experience.’

This is quote from Gerrity, M.S., Jo Anne L. Earp, Robert F. DeVellis and Donald W. Light (1992) Uncertainty and Professional Work: Perceptions of Physicians in Clinical Practice. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 97, No. 4, New Directions in the Sociology of Medicine, pp. 1022-1051 and they are referring to the work of anthropologist Mary Douglas. As some of you may be aware, my current research interests are at the intersection of technology and medicine, and in particular what role scanning plays in managing medical uncertainty. I am reading a lot about sociololgical perspectives of risk, truth and uncertainty and finding many references to the (not so original) idea that the knower does play a role in producing scientific knowledge.


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