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Purpose – The chapter examines the historical pattern of interconnections between drug policy, research, and treatment in light of recent theoretical developments in the…
Purpose – The chapter examines the historical pattern of interconnections between drug policy, research, and treatment in light of recent theoretical developments in the medicalization thesis advanced in the sociology of medicine.
Methodology/approach – The chapter uses interpretive methods to examine how the social construction of addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disorder” converges with or diverges from the conceptual framework offered by sociological theorists of medicalization and biomedicalization.
Findings – The approach adopted shows how the meanings of the bio/medicalization of addiction shifted and circulated within and beyond the institutions developed to respond to drug addiction as a hybrid social, medical, and biomedical condition during the 20th century.
Social implications – Bio/medical frameworks for addiction are the outcome of historical attempts to influence public attitudes and develop effective methods to treat and prevent this “disease” in ways that would positively affect the quality of life of people living with addictions.
Originality/value – This original contribution addresses both strengths and limitations of bio/medical models, assessing how their influence has changed over time.
Purpose – To compare the histories of two opioid medications that are pharmacologically similar but subject to contrasting regulations in their use in treatment of opiate…
Purpose – To compare the histories of two opioid medications that are pharmacologically similar but subject to contrasting regulations in their use in treatment of opiate dependence in the United States – methadone and buprenorphine – in order to analyze the role of racial imagery and racial politics in the legalization and clinical promotion of their use.
Methodology/approach – Historical methods of archival analysis of published articles and unpublished governmental records were used in researching methadone. Ethnographic methods of participant observation and semistructured interviews were used in researching buprenorphine.
Findings – Contrasting uses of racial imagery played a major role in shaping the current regulatory differences between the two treatments. The association of methadone with black and Latino heroin users has contributed to its increased federal regulation, while the association of buprenorphine with white, middle class prescription opioid users enabled its use in deregulated private physicians’ offices.
Originality/value of paper – Advocates of biomedicalization of behaviors and conditions thought of as social or moral, such as addiction, argue that biomedicalization reduces the stigma of the condition and imply that, in turn, it also reduces the racial inequalities associated with the condition. This study of the biomedicalization of treatment for opioid dependence indicates that the very process of biomedicalization depended on heightened racial imagery associated with each treatment and ultimately intensified, rather than reduced, the stigma of addiction for black and Latino low-income patients.
As biomedicine becomes increasingly enmeshed in modern life, biomedicalization processes have implications for reproductive policy, including abortion policy. Informed…
As biomedicine becomes increasingly enmeshed in modern life, biomedicalization processes have implications for reproductive policy, including abortion policy. Informed consent provisions have been a prominent trend in state-level abortion lawmaking in the United States in recent years. Modeled on the practice of securing informed consent for medical procedures, informed consent provisions stipulate the information a person must receive before they can consent to an abortion. Informed consent provisions purportedly require that this information be objective, scientifically accurate, and non-judgmental. Through an analysis of informed consent provisions in Texas abortion legislation from 1993 to 2015, this chapter explores how such provisions employ medical and biomedical tropes to frame regulations that restrict access to abortion care as ostensibly protecting women’s health and safety. I find that informed consent legislation in Texas selectively borrows from medical and biomedical lexicons, cites strategic empirical evidence, and co-opts medical techniques and experts in ways that encumber abortion access.
This chapter explores processes of stratification in reproductive healthcare and considers the ways in which mechanisms of inclusion/exclusion shape reproductive…
This chapter explores processes of stratification in reproductive healthcare and considers the ways in which mechanisms of inclusion/exclusion shape reproductive opportunities and experiences. First, I consider the process of “selective inclusion” among sexual minority women. This examination questions the schisms that exist within the sexual minority population in regard to their visibility and legibility in medical, scientific, and public health discourses and constructions of reproductive health. The second process I examine is that of “exclusionary inclusion” among substance using pregnant women who have been collectively deemed “bad breeders” by medical and state authorities and whose reproduction is explicitly monitored, regulated, and criminalized. The final process I discuss is “side-stepping inclusion” which describes the healthcare and consumer decisions of women who circumvent medicalized childbirth experiences by employing the services of a midwife for their pregnancy and birth care. This chapter examines how medicalization, biomedicalization, and de-medicalization dynamically work together to expand and delimit inclusionary processes, emphasizing the spectral and interconnected quality of these processes. By exploring various processes of inclusion that shape reproductive experiences of these disparate and differentially marginalized populations, this chapter provides a conceptual and critical meditation on the ways in which “respectable reproduction” is deployed in reproductive care. In considering these processes of inclusion and the ways in which they are co-produced by medical discourses and practices, scholars may more clearly grasp some fundamental mechanisms of stratification in reproductive healthcare and knowledge production.
Given the growth in use of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) in reproductive medicine, most fertility clinics have developed websites describing the benefits of PGD…
Given the growth in use of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) in reproductive medicine, most fertility clinics have developed websites describing the benefits of PGD. This chapter examines the media frames employed on 372 U.S. fertility clinic websites marketing PGD to consumers and how these frames promote biomedicalization.
Evaluation of website discourse was conducted with the use of frame analysis, a research methodology for examining the way media frames bind together claims, judgments, and value statements into a narrative that guides readers’ interpretation of an issue.
Findings show that website discourse frames PGD in terms of the attainment of reproductive normality, the management of reproductive risk, and the achievement of technological progress. These discursive frames contribute to the ongoing biomedicalization of reproduction by re-naturalizing conception as a choice rather than a natural fact, by promoting preoccupation with biomedical risk, and by affirming new forms of technological power and expertise.
Examination reveals the ways in which PGD has developed its own system of representations, notions of exchange, and epistemic forms, and highlights the important ethical issues leveraged on fertility clinic websites marketing PGD.
As one of the first attempts to systematically analyze media frames that depict PGD on fertility clinic websites, this study contributes to medical sociology by advancing theoretical and empirical understanding of the media processes shaping accounts of reproductive technologies. Findings also provide a foundation for further analysis of the social norms and bioethical standards arising from consumer marketing of reproductive technologies.
This chapter takes a critical look at the sociological notion of ‘medicalisation’ in relation to recent trends and developments in neuroscience, neurotechnology and…
This chapter takes a critical look at the sociological notion of ‘medicalisation’ in relation to recent trends and developments in neuroscience, neurotechnology and society, taking memory, medicine and the brain as our prime focus and the disease category of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as our empirical case study. Five relational nexuses in particular are identified as relevant to these developments and debates, namely the bio-psych nexus, the pharma-psych nexus, the selves-subjectivity nexus, the wellness-enhancement nexus, and the neuroculture-neurofuture nexus. We show that developments in memory medicine and the shifting boundaries of cognitive health, as embodied and expressed in the case of MCI, shed further valuable light on these issues and the interconnectivity of these relational nexuses. As an emergent disease and susceptibility category, MCI illuminates not only the fuzzy boundaries between normal and abnormal cognitive functioning, but also the working of neuroscientific, neurocultural and pharmacological interests, which, in this case, are already claiming MCI as the next locus of enhancing the mind and optimising aging. Thinking both within and beyond medicalisation challenges us to find new ways to critically understand the ideas about life and health as they travel, translate or migrate from (neuro)scientific and clinical spheres to cultural life and patient experience.
Purpose: As biomedicine grants technology and quantification privileged roles in our cultural constructions of health, media and technology play an increasingly important…
Purpose: As biomedicine grants technology and quantification privileged roles in our cultural constructions of health, media and technology play an increasingly important role in mediating our everyday experiences of our bodies and may contribute to the reproduction of gendered norms.
Design: This study draws from a broad variety of disciplines to contextualize and interpret contemporary trends in self-quantification, focusing on metrics for health and fitness. I will also draw from psychology and feminist scholarship on objectification and body-surveillance.
Findings: I interpret body-tracking tools as biomedical technologies of self-surveillance that facilitate and encourage control of human bodies, while solidifying demands for standardization around neoliberal values of enhancement and optimization. I also argue that body-tracking devices reinforce and normalize the scrutiny of human bodies in ways that may reproduce and advance longstanding gender disparities in detriment of women.
Implications: A responsible conceptualization, design, implementation, and usage of health-tracking technologies requires us to recognize and better understand how technologies with widely touted benefits also have the potential to reinforce and extend inequalities, alter subjective experiences and produce damaging outcomes, especially among certain groups. I conclude by proposing some alternatives for devising technologies or encouraging practices that are sensitive to these differences and acknowledge the validity of alternative values.
My early life was punctuated by turning points and transformations that gradually led to a surprising and late-blooming academic career – my first “real” sociology…
My early life was punctuated by turning points and transformations that gradually led to a surprising and late-blooming academic career – my first “real” sociology position began when I was 44. Here I trace six different trajectories of scholarly work which have compelled me: feminist women's health and technoscience studies; social worlds/arenas and the disciplinary emergence of reproductive sciences; the sociology of work and scientific practices; biomedicalization studies; grounded theory and situational analysis as qualitative research methods; and symbolic interaction-ists and -isms. I have circled back across them multiple times. Instead of seeing a beautifully folded origami of a life, it feels more like a crumpled wad of newspapers from various times. Upon opening and holding them up to the light in different ways, stories may be slowly discerned. I try to capture here some of the sweetness and fragility of these moments toward the end of an initially stuttering but later wondrously gratifying career.
A growing body of social research analyzes how the biomedical interest in detailed molecular aspects of people's bodies (genes, biomarkers, DNA) affect everyday notions of…
A growing body of social research analyzes how the biomedical interest in detailed molecular aspects of people's bodies (genes, biomarkers, DNA) affect everyday notions of health, risk, and responsibility for health problems. However, this research focus has been largely neglected in social alcohol research. The purpose of this paper is to report on some early findings from a study of media portrayals of biomedical alcohol research and to present a rationale for studying biomedical alcohol research more broadly.
The empirical discussion is based on textual analysis of 90 newspaper articles published in Swedish newspapers between 1995 and 2010 and one‐on‐one semi‐structured interviews with 24 newspaper readers about their interpretation of the newspaper portrayals. The motives for studying biomedical alcohol research more broadly are discussed in relation to existing research and theories of biomedicalization.
It is found that a large majority of the newspapers cite biomedical researchers to explain the mechanisms of addiction, and that biomedical research is often presented as revolutionary in scope. However, journalists also act as storytellers who explain the biomedical research results to readers. The reward system proved to be a central notion among the interviewees, who had their own, different and varying definitions of the concept. The authors suggest a framework for analyzing how biomedical knowledge is produced, communicated and utilized by three types of key actors.
The study presents a novel framework for studying biomedical alcohol research.