In this chapter I explore how conflicting discursive claims made by the medical community are consequential for bariatric weight loss surgery patients. Bariatric surgery has become increasingly common in the United States since the 1990s, with over 177,000 Americans undergoing surgery in 2006. Despite the surgery's growing popularity, the US medical community does not wholeheartedly endorse the surgery. Rather, different members of the medical community espouse contradictory evaluations of weight loss surgery. I broadly characterize this intra-medical community controversy and, then, discuss how conflicting claims have helped shape the bariatric surgery industry's discursive conception of an “ideal patient.” Next, I analyze actual patients’ negotiations of the ideal patient archetype, and find that patients’ responses follow three paths: embracing the ideal, having a mixed response to the ideal, and strategically complying with the ideal. As patients are compelled to grapple with the ideal archetype in order to access surgery, I conclude that the ideal archetype acts as a discursive frame connecting individual patients to broad bariatric surgery discourses.
Drew, P. (2008), "Weight loss surgery patients’ negotiations of medicine's institutional logic", Jacobs Kronenfeld, J. (Ed.) Care for Major Health Problems and Population Health Concerns: Impacts on Patients, Providers and Policy (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 65-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0275-4959(08)26004-7Download as .RIS
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