Category: Sociology of Health & Illness

Employee well-being and versions of corporate-driven orthorexia

Context In 1997, Steven Bratman [2] launched the concept of ‘orthorexia’, derived from the Greek “orthos”, meaning “correct or right” and “orexis”, meaning “hunger or appetite”. He described his own “pathological fixation on eating proper food”; including ritualized eating of vegetables picked no more than 15 minutes before consumption, and chewing each mouthful at least 50 times before swallowing. Following this, social discourse [1, 5, 12] has defined healthy nutrition as eating simply, ‘pure’, ‘clean’, wholesome, non-processed diets; diets which...

Interview with Jon Gabe, Professor of Sociology, Royal Holloway University of London; Chair of Trustees of the Foundation for Sociology of Health & Illness

Jonathan Gabe is Professor of Sociology at Royal Holloway University of London, and the Chair of Trustees of the UK Charity, Foundation for Sociology of Health & Illness. In a recent interview, Jon spoke about his research, as well as the objectives and activities of the Foundation.   The Foundation Objectives The Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness was established in December 1999 as a charity with the aim of promoting and improving social scientific research, education and scholarship...

I think I can(‘t), I think I can(‘t): a Mildred Blaxter New Writer’s Prize winner reflects on her identity as a new career researcher

Each year the Editorial Board of Sociology of Health and Illness offers a prize for “the best article published in the journal by an early career researcher”. In September, I received an email announcing that my article Engaging conceptions of identity in a context of medical pluralism: explaining treatment choices for everyday illness in Niger had been selected as the 2017 winner. Honored and surprised to receive this message, I laughed out loud at the absurdity of how drastically my...

SHI Special Issue: “Beyond behavior? Institutions, interactions and inequalities in the response to antimicrobial resistance”

A new free special issue  of Sociology of Health & Illness on Institutions, interactions and inequalities in the response to antimicrobial resistance, edited by Catherine Will  is available to read, here. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has come to prominence as a priority for policy makers and a subject for media debate, following advocacy by the Chief Medical Officer (Davies 2015). The concept refers to the emergence and spread of strains of common infections that can no longer be treated by existing antibiotic classes,...

What does the public think about health inequalities?

Politicians and researchers often appear to assume that the British public have a limited understanding of health inequalities. This is evident in efforts by researchers, non-governmental organisations and government bodies to raise awareness of persistent patterns of health inequalities (e.g. via creative visual maps that highlight how life expectancy varies by area) and health-damaging behaviours (notably smoking, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy foods). Yet, remarkably few studies have explored public understandings of health inequalities in the UK so it is...

Are all neoliberalisms equally bad for your health?

There is evidence that the shift from social democratic to a neoliberal consensus in modern welfare capitalist states has restructured the contexts in which health practices are enacted. Neoliberal policies are being characterised by an emphasis on increasing individual responsibility, consumer choice, the privatisation of public resources and introduction of market regulation, and linked to growing social inequalities and worse health. When we turn to chronic illness, and chronic illness management (‘CIM’), these growing inequalities can be posited as a...

An enduring genetic imaginary?

  In a speech celebrating the completion of the Human Genome Project, Bill Clinton, then president of the US, gave voice to the great expectations for genomic science, claiming it would ‘revolutionise the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most, if not all, human diseases’ (see https://www.genome.gov/10001356/). Yet emerging work on the sociology of the new genetics was already starting to raise questions about the desirability and implications of these developments.  One influential commentator, Abby Lippman, 1991, 1992) coined the term...

The company you keep: Is socialising with higher-status people bad for mental health?

Is socializing with higher-status people good or bad for mental health? A recent study of the same title starts with this question. People often believe that socializing with higher-status alters is beneficial by leading to access valuable resources. It seems true that individuals are able to obtain useful information and resources if they know people in higher positions, by providing useful resources that the individuals could have not accessed without such relationships. However, it is also probable that socializing with higher-status alters...

Health and new normals

A recent article in The Conservation – To be ill is to be human: why normalising illness would make it easier to cope with – authors Gill Hubbard and Claire Wakefield argue that sickness remains the great unsaid, an object and state of denial, a source of fear and cause of stigma. Because of this, we tend to stay quiet when we fall ill, often keeping it hidden and coping alone.  This may make it far harder to cope when...

Sex, drugs and activism: making HIV treatment as prevention available in the UK

On 10 April 2017, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) announced that PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) – the use of HIV treatment in people who are HIV-negative to prevent HIV – would soon be available on the NHS. This is a landmark decision for the use of HIV treatment as prevention in the UK, making Scotland the first – and currently only – country to provide PrEP through the NHS. PrEP policy pathways The Scottish pathway to this policy decision has been...

Liminal spaces : Making connections for healthcare professionals

Discovering this paper (on Twitter) by Brown et al (2017) and how elegantly it presents the ambivalent world of people recovering from ME, a contested and controversial condition. Encountering it on social media has led to me feeling compelled to write this blog to see if it elicits some response from other healthcare professionals. As a recovering nurse educator I have been in hiding for a number of years but this paper has encouraged me out of my cave. I...

The Sociology of Sickness: On Feeling Bad

At the time in which I write this, I have been sick for eight days. I’ve gone through 5 boxes of tissues. Two packs of medicines. Had a fever. Called off a day of work. Gone to the doctor. Slept more than I have probably all year long. Needless to say, this is quite the summer cold. Being sick is no fun, and I’m one to remind everyone around me that it is as such. I complain, I play the victim...