The Diffusion of Medical Innovations: Can Figurational Sociology Contribute?
This article seeks to present and explore the relevance of a figurational, or process sociological approach, as developed by Norbert Elias, to the investigation of innovation and change. It is argued that Elias’s work offers a theoretically robust framework for exploring such issues. Applications of the principles of his work, in particular the emphasis on an understanding of longer-term unplanned processes, are a potential help to those charged with planning and managing complex change, such as the introduction of innovation. The example of health policy-makers’ attempts to use the principles of evidence-based medicine (EBM) to change clinical practice is used to explore these claims.