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Chapter 9

2C06 Chapter 9: Medicine as an institution of social control

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Dorothy Pawluch

2C06 Chapter 9 – Medicine as an Institution of social Control Types of Medical Social Control - Medicine was first conceptualized as an agent of social control by Talcott Parsons - Medical social control – the ways in which medicine functions to secure adherence to social norms –specifically, by using medical means to minimize, eliminate, or normalize deviant behaviour - One of the most abstract level medical social control is the acceptance of a medical perspective as the dominant definition of certain phenomena o When medical perspectives of problems and their solutions become dominant, they diminish competing definitions o Medical social control also includes medical advice, cousel, info that are part of the general stock of knowledge  Ex: Smoking causes cancer is a form of how medicalization points to what is desirable behaviour versus what is not. - Medical social control is enacted through professional medical intervention which aims at returning sick individuals to compliance with health norms and to their conventional social roles, adjusting them to new roles - Traditionally, psychiatry and public health have serves as the clearest examples of medical social control - Medicalizing deviant behaviour – defining the behaviour as an illness or a symptom of an illness or underlying disease –and subsequent direct medical intervention o Takes three forms: (1)- Medical technology, (2) – medical collaboration, (3) – medical ideology Medical technology - Psychotechnologies, which include various forms of medical and behavioural technologies are the most common means of medical control of deviance (Tranquelizers, Antabuse, methadone) o Easily administered, generally less expensive, effectful - Behaviour modification (skinners) has been used to treat various mental illnesses - Genetic explanations increasing in medicalization of deviance especially in the realm of mental illness Medical ideology - Type of social control that involves defining a behaviour/condition as illness primarily because of the social and ideological benefits accrued by conceptualizing it in medical terms - One latent function of medicalization “secondary gain” arguing that assumption of the sick role can fulfill personality and individual needs or legitimize personal failure Social consequences of medicalizing deviance - Benefits o Medicalization is related to a long time humanitarian trend in the conception/control od deviance  Ex: Alcholoism is not a sin or morally wrong it’s a disease  Treatment for alchoholics can be seen as more humane form of social control through the medicalization perspective o Medicalization allows for the extension of a sick role to those labeled as deviant  Responsibility for ones behaviour is removed once the deviant behaviour becomes defined as an illness  Removes blame from indv for deviant actions  reduced guilt/stigma  The sick role allows for the conditional legitimation of a certain amount of deviance so long as the individual fulfills the obligation to the sick role therefore your medically excused from deviance • However, there is a price that there is a recognition that illness itself is an undesirable state and must be recovered from as soon as possible o Medical model can be viewed as portraying an optimistic outcome for deviant  The deviant behaviour can be treated o Medicalization lends the prestige of the medical profession to deviance designations and treatments  Medicalization places problem in hands of physicans it becomes doctors problem o Medical social control is more flexible and often more efficient and judicial and legal controls - Negatives o Discloation of responsibility – confusion/ambiguity about whose responsible
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