2_Medicalization - A Multi-Dimensional Concept - Ballard and Elston

2_Medicalization - A Multi-Dimensional Concept - Ballard and Elston

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Unformatted text preview: INTRODUCTION The concept of medicalisation has been widely employed by social scientists, over the last three decades, to refer to the processes by which social phenomena come to be perceived and treated as illnesses.‘Classic’ examples of medicalisation described by sociologists include both deviant behaviours, such as recurrent excess alcohol consumption (Schneider, 1978) and hyperactivity in children (Conrad, 1975), and natural body processes, such as ageing (Zola, 1991), pregnancy (Oakley, 1984) menopause (McCrea, 1983) and death (Clarke, 2002). Although particularly associated with medical sociology, the concept has been used in other academic disciplines, including the biomedical sciences, law, and ethics, with authors identifying a diverse range of behaviours and conditions as having been medicalised. For example, Cermark (1998) suggests that marijuana consumption has been medicalised through its legal use for medical purposes. It has also been argued that so-called compulsive buying has been medicalised through the use of...
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