Purpose – This chapter examines medical consumerism and the changing relations between patients as consumers and the medical system across two women's health contexts…
Purpose – This chapter examines medical consumerism and the changing relations between patients as consumers and the medical system across two women's health contexts, breast cancer and infertility.
Methodology/approach – The analysis draws on two qualitative studies: The first explores the experiences of 60 breast cancer survivors through in-depth interviews and participant observation (Sulik, 2005), and the second uses in-depth interviews to analyze 18 women's experiences with infertility (Eich-Krohm, 2000).
Findings – The medical consumer is an individualized role that shifts attention away from the quality problem in health care and toward the quality of the person as a medical consumer who is characterized to be optimistic, proactive, rational, responsible, and informed.
Research limitations/implications – As medicine has become a form of mass consumption, the category of medical consumer has elevated the individual in medical decision-making. The shift from patient to medical consumer is an ongoing process that is grounded in a tension between medical control and individual agency, and is exacerbated by the intensity and incomprehensibility of modern medicine.
Practical implications – The proliferation of medical information and personal illness narratives through the Internet, advice books, and self-help groups have advanced lay knowledge about preventive medicine and medical treatment while simultaneously introducing new fears and anxiety about the multitude of options and outcomes.
Originality/value of chapter – This study contributes to our knowledge on medical consumerism and its impact on illness experience and the synthesis of lay and professional knowledge.
In recent years, the issue of human trafficking has become a key component of a growing number of corporate social responsibility initiatives, in which multinational corporations have furthered the pursuit of “market based solutions” to contemporary social concerns. This essay draws upon in-depth interviews with and ethnographic observations of corporate actors involved in contemporary anti-trafficking campaigns to describe a new domain of sexual politics that feminist social theorists have barely begun to consider. Using trafficking as a case study, I argue that these new forms of sexual politics have served to bind together unlikely sets of social actors – including secular feminists, evangelical Christians, bipartisan state officials, and multinational corporations – who have historically subscribed to very different ideals about the beneficence of markets, criminal justice, and the role of the state.