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Goldsmiths - University of London

A wager on the future: a practicable response to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the stubborn fact of process

Rosengarten, Marsha and Murphy, Dean A.. 2020. A wager on the future: a practicable response to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the stubborn fact of process. Social Theory & Health, 18(1), pp. 1-15. ISSN 1477-8211 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this article we focus on public health’s wager on the social implications of a daily antiretroviral pill to prevent HIV, referred to as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). The wager is shown to rely on modes of inquiry overly tied to what is known of the present in order to predict the future. Although such inquiry is not unusual when social research is called upon to assist health policy, predictive methodologies are unable to appreciate the dynamic and thus indeterminate nature of process. We ask: what mode of inquiry might practicably appreciate that what happens in the present will have a bearing on the future, without foreclosing on unknown possibles? Drawing on speculative and pragmatic philosophy, we reflect on our own qualitative research on PrEP to suggest that conventional methodological approaches can contribute to the future without seeking to determine what it will become.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Speculative and pragmatic research, HIV, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), Gay men

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP)


5 August 2019Accepted
5 August 2019Published Online
March 2020Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Aug 2019 13:15

Last Modified:

12 Feb 2020 09:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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