How do we understand health in relation to society? What role does culture play in shaping our experiences of, and orientation to, health and illness? How do we understand medicine and medical treatment within a sociological framework?
Medicalization is now well established as a key sociological concept yet it is difficult to be specific about when it first entered the social scientific lexicon. It seems that the process was originally referred to by critics of the growing influence of psychiatry in the 1960s (although these critics did not use the term explicitly), and it increased in popularity in the 1970s when linked with the concept of social control. Since then medicalization has been applied to a variety of putative problems that (at times contentiously) came to be defined as medical, ranging from childbirth and the menopause through to alcoholism ...