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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?

Jonathan Gabe

The language of risk is now frequently used in both popular and expert discourse, especially when it comes to discussing health issues. This has not always been the case. In pre-Renaissance times the dominant popular discourse was that of ‘fate’ - in which personal misfortune and disaster were explained in terms of chance, personal destiny and the will of the gods. In this period dangers such as floods and epidemics were perceived as natural events rather than as man-made and the idea of human fault or responsibility was not considered. With the emergence of modernity in the seventeenth century a new materialistic and deterministic discourse was established, premised on the belief that the social and natural ...

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