Medicalization

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOSC 111
Professor
Kevin Dew
Semester
Fall

Description
Medicalization  Where behaviors, activities or conditions are given a medical meaning  Medical practices are developed to control the now medically defined problem  The process of medicalization has meant to domain of medicine has expanded  That medicine is a form of social control by individualizing social problems  Being „medicalized‟ can confer legitimacy Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) and normative functionalism  Sharing of norms and values  Institutions composed of statuses and roles o Expectations of particular behavior o Expectations have character of rules or norms The Sick Role  Care for the sick institutionalized in the health professions, not family  The nuclear family cant take on the role of looking after the sick  Shift to the sick being cared for by the institution of medicine  Remove the power of the mother and the nurturing environment of the home as it leads to less people wanting to get better, a motivation to stay sick  Health = “the state of optimum capacity of an individual for the effective performance of the roles and tasks for which he (sic) has been socialized”  Sociological notion of heath  Heath is what we have been socialized to do  Medicine = an institution of social stability and control  Sick role provide functional ability to overcome the motivation to stay sick Features of the Sick Role  Recovery depends upon a therapeutic process (the patient is not responsible)  Illness exempts one from normal role obligations  The patient must see the state of illness as undesirable and must try to get well  The patient is obliged to seek help from competent agencies Consequences of the Sick Role  If you are not motivated to seek help you are deviant (malingerer, mentally ill etc.)  That labeling removes you from influencing others Parson’s contribution  Sickness as both biological and social  Prior to parson‟s argument, it wasn‟t the domain of sociologist to look at medicine  We are socialized into the institution of medicine i.e. we learn our roles and how to adjust to the interactions  Critiques o Supports the status quo, he has the idea of the nuclear family and its relationship to the institution of medicine o Inability for the sick role to include chronic illness o Underlying assumption of the therapeutic efficacy of any therapeutic approach that dominates, you are required to go and seek help from someone sanctioned from the institution of medicine Classic examples of disease ‘constructions’  In hindsight we know these are not classified as medical conditions  Drapetomania – the disease of African slaves running away in the USA, one treatment was to remove the big toe to make it harder for them to run  Sluggish schizophrenia – political dissidents in the Soviet Union, express
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