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3_Medicalization, Markets, and Consumers - Conrad and Leiter

3_Medicalization, Markets, and Consumers - Conrad and...

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MEDICALIZATION, MARKETSAND CONSUMERS changes in the medical marketplace on the increasing medicalization of society. We first review the extant general explanations for the increased medicalization, setting these in the context of recent changes in the medical sys- tem and expanding medical knowledge. The core of the paper focuses on two aspects of the changing medical market place: Direct-to-con- sumer advertising of prescription drugs in insurance mediated medical markets and the emergence of new private medical markets. The final section links these two aspects of the changing medical marketplace to medicaliza- tion and to consumers' access to health care. AGENTS OF MEDICALIZATION There are numerous broad social factors that have encouraged or abetted medicalization, including the diminutionof religion; an abid- ing faith in science, rationality, and progress; an increased reliance on experts; and a general humanitarian trend in Western societies (Conrad 1992:213). These factors, rather than being explanatory, set the context in which medicalization occurs.
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