The Mediated Breast: Technology, Agency, and Breast Cancer

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Women intimately interact with various medical technologies and prosthetic artifacts in the context of breast cancer. While extensive work has been done on the agency of technological artifacts and how they affect users' perceptions and experiences, the agency of users is largely taken for granted hitherto. In this article, we explore the agency of four women who engage with breast cancer technologies and artifacts by analyzing their narrative accounts of such engagements. This empirical discussion is framed within the tradition of science and technology studies, philosophy of technological mediation and phenomenology of embodied agency as 'I can/not'. This approach leads to the conclusions that women's technologically mediated agencies range from being restricted to extended, take place on different bodily levels, within complex temporal structures, and are determined by certain socio-cultural contexts. Furthermore, it reveals that such agency shaping does not imply a one-way conditioning relationship between technologies and users, but rather involves a reciprocal relationship in which both subject and object are co-constituted. We therefore suggest that the 'material turn' in philosophy of technology also needs to take into account technologically mediated, material human beings in order to gain a better understanding of human existence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275–292
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • BODY
  • Breast cancer
  • Embodied agency
  • Material turn
  • Phenomenology
  • Technological mediation
  • Women


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