• 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 Sociological Character of Health-Care Markets
The sociological character of health-care markets

While doctors have been competing amongst themselves and with other providers for centuries over technique, turf, patients, and the organization of work (Abbott 1988; Albrecht 1992: Ch. 6), price competition is a new, largely American, phenomenon that has been aggressively exported and selectively adopted by a number of other countries. Economic arguments have had a dominant influence on health-care policy internationally, but I will argue in this chapter that they do not explain the actual workings of health-care markets, which are described better by sociological studies.

Economic competition and markets in health care, as observed in a review 10 years ago (Light 1989), embody a paradigm shift from the professional dominance that prevailed in most ...

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