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Discourse and Health

  • By: Isaac Nahon-Serfaty
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

The relationship between discourse and health has been approached from two contending traditions. The first is largely rooted in French scholarship, especially the meditations of Michel Foucault. Focusing predominantly on the emergence of modern clinical practice and medical institutions (e.g., hospitals, asylums), it views discourse as the expression of an institutional strategy of normalization and control. The second, which is largely made up of Anglo scholars, perceives discourse as the expression of multiple voices that are manifest at micro (i.e., interpersonal and individual), meso (i.e., organizational), and macro (i.e., social) levels within the context of health communication. Both perspectives have contributed to a better understanding of the role of discourse in influencing societal perceptions and expectations about health issues, while drawing attention to the link ...

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