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New Book Details How Video Technology Revolutionized Surgery

Contact: Karl Luntta(518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 26, 2004) -- In his new book Surgeons and the Scope (Cornell University Press, 2003) UAlbany sociologist James R. Zetka Jr. portrays the impact of the video laparoscope on the work of contemporary surgeons. The video laparoscope, a complex technological innovation first used in operating rooms in the early 1980s, allows surgeons to peer into the inner abdomen with a miniaturized camera, thereby enabling them to perform complex operations through small, noninvasive ports in the abdominal wall.

Zetka blends rich interview and archival data into an account of a revolutionary technological development, showing how the new laparoscopic technology challenged surgeons to rethink traditional approaches to surgery, to relearn basic hand-eye coordination, to master complex machinery, and to shift from individualistic to team-based strategies. He explains how and why general surgeons embraced this technology by examining the breakdown of the division of labor between general surgeons and gastroenterologists in response to the unintended and unanticipated outcomes of the scope technology.

In Surgeons and the Scope, Zetka weaves cultural, structural, political and economic developments into a detailed account of technological change. By viewing the advent of laparoscopic surgery within the context of the history and ideology of medicine, Zetka provides a deeper understanding of the politics of technology, particularly its effects on job skills, occupations, and worker control.

James R. Zetka Jr., an associate professor in the department of sociology, is also author of Militancy, Market Dynamics, and Workplace Authority: The Struggle over Labor Process Outcomes in the U.S. Automobile Industry, 1946-1973.

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