Purpose – This study identifies the multiple contributions of the Salvadoran women's movement in sustaining mass mobilization under the threat of public health care privatization.
Methodology/approach – A case study methodological approach shows how the emergence of an autonomous women's movement in El Salvador in the late 1980s and early 1990s “spilled over” (Meyer & Whittier, 1994) to assist in the maintenance of the health care campaigns in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Findings – We observed three arenas in which the women's movement played pivotal roles in the anti-health care privatization struggle: (1) women-based organizations; (2) leadership positions within larger coalitions brokering the participation of diverse social sectors; and (3) key advocacy roles inside the state. These three contributions of the women's movement increased the overall level of mobilization and success against health care privatization.
Research limitations – The study centered on one major group of health care consumers. The role of other civic organizations should be examined in future research.
Originality/value of chapter – The study demonstrates that in the era of globalization, women's movements form a critical part of the social movement sector facilitating the construction of large coalitions protecting consumers from neoliberal restructuring in areas such as public health care.
In 1920 Margaret Sanger called voluntary motherhood “the key to the temple of liberty” and noted that women were “rising in fundamental revolt” to claim their right to…
In 1920 Margaret Sanger called voluntary motherhood “the key to the temple of liberty” and noted that women were “rising in fundamental revolt” to claim their right to determine their own reproductive fate (Rothman, 2000, p. 73). Decades later Barbara Katz Rothman reflected on the social, political and legal changes produced by reproductive-rights feminists since that time. She wrote: So the reproductive-rights feminists of the 1970s won, and abortion is available – just as the reproductive-rights feminists of the 1920s won, and contraception is available. But in another sense, we did not win. We did not win, could not win, because Sanger was right. What we really wanted was the fundamental revolt, the “key to the temple of liberty.” A doctor’s fitting for a diaphragm, or a clinic appointment for an abortion, is not the revolution. It is not even a woman-centered approach to reproduction (2000, p. 79).
The medicalization thesis derives from a classic theme in the field of medical sociology. It addresses the broader issue of the power of medicine – as a culture and as a profession – to define and regulate social behavior. This issue was introduced into sociology 50 years ago by Talcott Parsons (1951) who suggested that medicine was a social institution that regulated the kind of deviance for which the individual was not held morally responsible and for which a medical diagnosis could be found. The agent of social control was the medical profession, an institutionalized structure in society that had been given the mandate to restore the health of the sick so that they could resume their expected role obligations. Inherent in this view of medicine was the functionalist perspective on the workings of society: the basic function of medicine was to maintain the established division of labor, a state that guaranteed the optimum working of society. For 20 years, the Parsonian interpretation of how medicine worked – including sick-role theory and the theory of the profession of medicine – dominated the bourgeoning field of medical sociology.
With an aim to investigate the recent state of the feminist clinics and their negotiation of medical authority in a time of increased technoscientific biomedicalization…
With an aim to investigate the recent state of the feminist clinics and their negotiation of medical authority in a time of increased technoscientific biomedicalization, and capitalistic health-care system, I conducted a study of two feminist health centers in the Northeast of the United States in 2001–2002. In this chapter, I discuss how the two centers (a nonprofit collective and a for-profit center with a more hierarchical structure) negotiated medical authority in organizational terms as impacted by the larger context of medicine and its interaction with the state, capitalist health-care system, and antiabortion forces. The chapter concludes with a discussion of demedicalization as a multilevel process and implications for feminist care (service delivery) and U.S. Women's Health Movement.
Health social movements address several issues: (a) access to, or provision of, health care services; (b) disease, illness experience, disability and contested illness;…
Health social movements address several issues: (a) access to, or provision of, health care services; (b) disease, illness experience, disability and contested illness; and/or (c) health inequality and inequity based on race, ethnicity, gender, class and/or sexuality. These movements have challenged a variety of authority structures in society, resulting in massive changes in the health care system. While many other social movements challenge medical authority, a rapidly growing type of health social movement, “embodied health movements” (EHMs), challenge both medical and scientific authority. Embodied health movements do this in three ways: (1) they make the body central to social movements, especially with regard to the embodied experience of people with the disease; (2) they typically include challenges to existing medical/scientific knowledge and practice; and (3) they often involve activists collaborating with scientists and health professionals in pursuing treatment, prevention, research, and expanded funding. We present a conceptual framework for understanding embodied health movements as simultaneously challenging authority structures and allying with them, and offer the environmental breast cancer movement as an exemplar case.
Purpose – This research considers how self-help groups (SHGs) and self-help organizations (SHOs) contribute to consumerist trends in two different societies: United States…
Purpose – This research considers how self-help groups (SHGs) and self-help organizations (SHOs) contribute to consumerist trends in two different societies: United States and United Kingdom. How do the health care systems and the voluntary sectors affect the kinds of social changes that SHGs/SHOs make?
Methodology/approach – A review of research on the role of SHGs/SHOs in contributing to national health social movements in the UK and US was made. Case studies of the UK and the US compare the characteristics of their health care systems and their voluntary sector. Research reviews of two community level self-help groups in each country describe the kinds of social changes they made.
Findings – The research review verified that SHGs/SHOs contribute to national level health social movements for patient consumerism. The case studies showed that community level SHGs/SHOs successfully made the same social changes but on a smaller scale as the national movements, and the health care system affects the kinds of community changes made.
Research limitations – A limited number of SHGs/SHOs within only two societies were studied. Additional SHGs/SHOs within a variety of societies need to be studied.
Originality/value of chapter – Community SHGs/SHOs are often trivialized by social scientists as just inward-oriented support groups, but this chapter shows that local groups contribute to patient consumerism and social changes but in ways that depend on the kind of health care system and societal context.
This chapter provides the introduction of the book and argues why gender and feminism matter in theory and praxis in the 21st century. It includes the conceptual interrogation of the meaning of gender and feminism and its practice in western and non-western contexts; global currents in feminist struggles; thematic organization of the book; and the future under ‘feminist eyes’. The thread of shared struggles among diverse groups of women based on selected themes — movements, spaces and rights; inclusion, equity and policies; reproductive labour, work and economy; health, culture and violence; and sports and bodies — situates Canada as a western society with avowed egalitarian ideals favouring gender equality and social justice, but with its own issues and concerns like women in other countries facing their own challenges.
Scholars and activists working both within and outside the massive health-related machinery of government and the private sector and within and outside communities of…
Scholars and activists working both within and outside the massive health-related machinery of government and the private sector and within and outside communities of color address the same fundamental questions: Why do health disparities exist? Why have they persisted over such a long time? What can be done to significantly reduce or eliminate them?
This chapter is concerned with the varied legitimizing discourses used by midwives to frame their identities in relation to their work. This sociological issue is…
This chapter is concerned with the varied legitimizing discourses used by midwives to frame their identities in relation to their work. This sociological issue is particularly important in the context of an occupation, such as this one, that exists at the border of competing service claims. Drawing on 26 in-depth interviews, I use narrative analysis to examine the stories that midwives tell about their work. Through these women’s work narratives, I show the complex intersection of narrative, culture, institution, and biography (Chase, 1995, 2001; DeVault, 1999).
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.