• 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.

The Social Construction of Medicine and the Body
The social construction of medicine and the body
Introduction

This chapter examines the social construction of ideas, knowledge, and individual's experiences of health and medicine in Western societies, using an interdisciplinary approach. The central argument of the chapter is that health, illness and disease, and health care may all be viewed as sociocultural products, and that it is therefore important to analyze the nature of their social and cultural representations and the symbolic meanings that surround them. In addressing these issues, the perspective of what may loosely be called ‘social constructionism’ is employed.

There is not the space here to cover the full range of social constructionist analyses of medicine, health, and illness, particularly as this perspective is found across ...

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