Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 23–27 | Cite as

Mode 2 Knowledge Production in the Context of Medical Research: A Call for Further Clarifications

  • Hojjat Soofi
Critical Perspectives


The traditional researcher-driven environment of medical knowledge production is losing its dominance with the expansion of, for instance, community-based participatory or participant-led medical research. Over the past few decades, sociologists of science have debated a shift in the production of knowledge from traditional discipline-based (Mode 1) to more socially embedded and transdisciplinary frameworks (Mode 2). Recently, scholars have tried to show the relevance of Mode 2 knowledge production to medical research. However, the existing literature lacks detailed clarifications on how a model of Mode 2 knowledge production can be constructed in the context of medical research. This paper calls for such further clarifications. As a heuristic means, the advocacy for a controversial experimental stem cell therapy (Stamina) is examined. It is discussed that the example cannot be considered a step towards Mode 2 medical knowledge production. Nonetheless, the example brings to the fore some complexities of medical knowledge production that need to be further examined including: (1) the shifting landscape of defining and addressing vulnerability of research participants, (2) the emerging overlap between research and practice, and (3) public health implications of revising the standard notions of quality control and accountability.


Mode 2 knowledge production Medical research Stamina Bioethics 



I am very grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their instructive comments. I also thank Arianna Manzini for her encouraging comments on an initial draft of this paper.


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© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alumnus of Erasmus Mundus Master of BioethicsKatholieke Universiteit Leuven, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, and Università Degli Studi di PadovaNorth RydeAustralia

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