Sociology of health midterm week 6
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social construction of illness
a multiplicity of social forces combine to create and modify a disease, including people's experience with the disease.
-thus, some illnesses more biologically determined than others
Deviance to illness
Rise of medicine has led to reclassification of certain diseases, from being caused by immoral character/sin to being considered an underlying pathology
Illness as deviance
critics have pointed out that illness is still socially understood as a form of deviance as it's considered "abnormal"
"abnormality" is socially constructed
From deviance (sin) to deviance (abnormal)
notice how constructions of illness are still imbued with moral judgement
What can be done to shift the view of a disease from deviance to illness?
- Defining it in medical terms
- using medical language to describe the problem
- adopting a medical framework
- use a medical intervention for treatment
process and outcome of human problems entering the jurisdiction of the medical profession
i.e. naming a problem as medical in nature, and treating it as such
How did Zola define medicalization?
Not occurring through political power of physicians, but rather is gradual process. Accomplished by medicalizing much of daily living, and by labelling 'healthy' and 'ill' an increasing part of human existance
thus Zola argues that medicalization is not a top-down process, but rather a culmination of effects
Name the three levels at which medicalization occurs
- Institutional: organizations adopt and legitimize a medical approach to treating a medical problem
- Conceptual: medical language used to define and order a problem(ex. sexual dysfunction conference to formally define it )
- Interactional: occurs at thelevel of health professional and patientrelationship (essentially doctor diagnosis you with something)
What are some benefits of medicalization?
- Ability to help with a wider range of problems
- reduce inappropriate blame
- reduce stigma (alcoholism)
- allow increased functioning in society
- increased self-esteem (through biomedical enhancement)
- increased quality of life
- legitimization of suffering
What are some concerns about medicalization?
- Transformation of human difference into pathology (ex. ISS)
- Are pharma intentionally or unintentionally responding to real needs or promoting new diagnoses to create norms to sell product
- label people as 'sick' when they may not feel sick
- social control being exerted over one group
- medicalization can obscure social forces that influence well-being
Forces of medicalization
- medical professions and institutions
- regulatory systems
- pharma+biotech industry
- addvocacy organizations
What are some examples of demedicalization?
- Homosexuality, child birth, deafness and disability
- usually social movements work to demedicalize certain conditions
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