• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

This is the first international and inter-disciplinary social science Handbook on health and medicine. Five years in the making, and building on the insights and advice of an international editorial board, the book brings together world-class figures to provide an indispensable, comprehensive resource book on social science, health and medicine. Pinpointing the focal issues of research and debate in one volume, the material is organized into three sections: social and cultural frameworks of analysis; the experience of health and illness; and health care systems and practices. Each section consists of specially commissioned chapters designed to examine the vital conceptual and methodological practice and policy issues.

Introduction
Introduction

Health is one of the most vital but taken-for-granted qualities of everyday life. Yet when jeopardized or diminished, an individual's health becomes a salient and central concern. Health and illness are universal elements of human life, which at different stages in the life cycle may go unnoticed, or alternately may appear in the foreground of consciousness. One of the defining aspects of the twentieth century has been that large sections of the world increasingly expect longer lives during which positive health can be largely assumed and anticipated. Almost paradoxically, this same century has appeared to render health problematic; something at risk, something requiring effort, and something precarious.

At the same time that health status has so dramatically improved for many sections of humankind, vastly more ...

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