Repair as inquiry and impro­vi­sa­tion. The curious case of medi­cal prac­tice (2019)

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Cornelius Schubert draws on ethnographic observations in hospitals to highlight the importance of repairing technical equipment and adjusting organisational procedures in medical practice. Routinely faced with divergent breakdowns and failures, nurses and doctors constantly engage in situated inquiries into the causes, nature and consequences of material and organisational problems, and improvise more or less robust remedies to them, thereby taking responsibility for vital issues. Drawing on pragmatist philosophy, Schubert highlights the constitutive dimensions of inquiry and improvisation in repair, notably with respect to how priorities are negotiated and established in medical practice. He shows how technical and organisational breakdowns are often interrelated and how technical fixes may resolve organisational problems and vice versa.


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Schubert, Cornelius (2019): „Repair as inquiry and improvisation. The curious case of medical practice“, in: Ignaz Strebel et al. (Hg.): Repair work ethnographies: Revisiting breakdown, relocating materiality. London, S. 31–60.