The Influence Of Medicalization

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Medicalization refers to the process by which previously non-medical problems become defined and treated as such (Zola, 1972). Early scholarship such as that of Conrad and Schneider (1992) explained medicalization in terms of redefining a behaviour society already deemed to be problematic in medical terms to which a medical framework and medical knowledge could then be applied in order to understand and treat the problem. This technique was part of strategic steps medicine took to solidify itself as a powerful practice that had monopoly of managing and regulating anything society saw as being problematic.

Conrad’s early work describes medicalization of deviance as stemming from a historical shift “From Badness to Sickness” (1980) and details
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The medical thesis emphasized that on the contrary of earlier literature, medicalization cannot only be viewed as defining deviant behaviour already deemed as being problematic, but medicalization was expanding its scope to include areas of everyday life such as pregnancy and contraception. Davis expanded this idea to include two further subtypes: problems of daily living such as shyness and biomedical enhancements such as cosmetic procedures. However, in terms of Conrad and Zola’s strict definitions, these would not be considered instances of medicalization as they do not involve deviant behaviour but involves individuals who are deemed as being healthy in some capacity. This not only illustrates the complexity in defining medicalization but also the contestation surrounding …show more content…
Foucault concurs this idea and adds that power makes up the basis of all social relations, and therefore cannot be thought of as being in the dominion of just a selection of relations – in this case, medical agents. Instead, power is negotiated within an intertwining complex web of relations, and therefore, it would be unreasonable to assume that medicine’s increasing power stems solely from medical agent’s aim to fulfill their own agenda. However, it must be remembered that although viewing medicalization as the result of medical dominance alone is clearly insufficient in today’s society, at the time earlier literature was being written (50s and 60s), it was a simpler time in which Parson’s sick role was flourishing and the power structure of society was much more transparent, with power imposed from members of the American Medical Association and doctors and the pharmaceutical companies were simply there to serve them and didn’t have much power. In today’s society, multiple institutions, although one may be more dominant, exist and

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