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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Brain, Self and Society: The Social and Political Implications of the New Brain Sciences

This research programme evaluates the hypothesis that 'the new brain sciences' – molecular neuroscience, psychiatric genetics, brain imaging, psychopharmaceuticals; novel neurotechnologies – are having as significant a social, political and personal impact in the twenty first century as psychological conceptions of personhood had for the twentieth century. Through historical research, documentary analysis, interviews and case studies of changing approaches to mental distress, developments in the courtroom and criminal justice system, and in the security apparatus, the research will examine the extent to which our ways of thinking about and acting on ourselves are being reshaped, and with what consequences. It maps the extent to which the new brain sciences are changing forms of professional authority, reconfiguring practices of control and impacting on the military and defence apparatus. It analyses the effects of these developments on the divisions of the normal and the pathological, on distinctions between therapy, reform, normalisation and enhancement, and on ideas of risk management, susceptibility and prevention in psychiatry and elsewhere. And it explores the consequences of these developments for individual identity and subjectivity – for our very ideas of what we are as human beings.