Author: Lucy Towers

The Sociology of Medical Guidelines

Allen Frances, M.D, is an American psychiatrist who chaired the DSM-IV taskforce, and later criticized the DSM-5 and American psychiatry for their roles in manufacturing mental illnesses and the epidemic of overdiagnosis. In this blog post he makes a well-founded plea for sociologic contributions to medicine. Before the Flexner report in 1909, medical education and practice in America were chaotic and of low quality. After the report, both were quickly and dramatically reformed in ways that seemed completely wonderful at...

‘If there were doctors who could understand our problems, I would already be better’: dissatisfactory health care and marginalisation in superdiverse neighbourhoods

In the 2007 film, originally entitled ‘Allotment’, the inimitable Omid Djalili plays a refugee doctor called Ali who consults in his allotment shed. Ali reviews the numerous medications taken by allotmenteer Charlie (played by John Henshaw). Ali indicates one packet of pills: ‘This one here is for women problems! Do you have women problems?’ Charlie looks annoyed, puzzled and then embarrassed. Why is Charlie taking drugs for a gynecological condition? Given Charlie’s dislike of visiting the health centre, his wife...

The lack of common sense in disorder thinking

Disorder thinking has been popular and dominant in recent decennia, with a rising number of behaviors and emotions being medicalized into a psychiatric disease. More people today than ever before in history are being diagnosed and treated for ever lighter quirks, drawing professional attention away from those who need treatment most. One recent example of medicalizing a problem that someone might have is Misophonia. Misophonia In 2013, a research group led by the Chair of the Dutch Psychiatry Association introduced...

“If it’s not on Strava it doesn’t matter”. The collective shaping of running via self-tracking social interactions

“If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen”, I have often been told as I explain my research to runners and cyclists familiar with the social fitness platform. Self-tracking has become an everyday activity, and not just for athletes (and ‘wannabe’ athletes). Wearable devices for self-tracking of sleep, food intake, physical activity and even sex are readily available, and smart phones gather data on steps, heart rate and sleep without you even knowing. The ethics and power issues associated with...

Upholding Equity Across Different Campuses

In the past decade the United States has witnessed an influx of conversations regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Cases like Brock Turner and Chanel Miller or Emma Sulkowicz became national examples of the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses as well as universities’ failures to protect survivors and seek justice. While there is much work left to be done, there seems to be a more concrete understanding of the frequency of sexual assault and the injustice done…

ADHD and brain anatomy: First do no harm!

ADHD is kind of like a cancer disease but you’re not going to die from it Sylvia, US, on medication, age 11 This quote originates from Ilina Singh’s groundbreaking VOICES study that interviews children about ADHD and medication. Sylvia’s account of ADHD is one of a physical and serious disease like cancer -although not lethal. However, ADHD is not a disease like cancer, but a concept from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), currently in its fifth...

Ethnicity in Dementia Research: Are Social Scientists Complicit in Neuropsychiatric Imperialism?

During the early-21st century, social dementia research has experienced something of an ethnic turn. This trajectory is rooted in 1990s psychosocial accounts of dementia that newly championed the perspectives of people with dementia, and the subsequent realisation that these early perspectives were rather white. In response, researchers have increasingly sought to access the dementias of minority ethnicity groups living in high-income countries. Unfortunately, rather than meaningfully engaging with a greater diversity of dementias, much of this movement toward minority ethnicity...

What are women’s experiences like during and after disasters?

Although gaining attention, gender remains under-researched in disaster risk reduction protocols and response and recovery efforts. Many research gaps are due to sexist biases and a lack of inclusion of women’s experiences1. In fact, much early social science research was blind to gender and used men as the default for analysis2. Since then, the effects of gender stratification and women’s experiences have slowly been integrated into disaster research and social vulnerability analyses3. It is important to continue gender-based research to...

Gender, Political Change, and the Macro-Social

It is clear that there is a reciprocal relationship between politics and our social world; while political action acts on our social environment, social phenomena equally shape our political landscape. In this vein, there has been a growing acknowledgment that social facts, like gender, deeply influence who rises to political power as well as the policies they are able to enact.  For example, over the past two years our country has frequently discussed how masculinity contributed to the rise of...

Doing Art in the Countryside, Doing Rural Sociology with Art

Over the last couple of years, my explorations of ‘art in the countryside’, usually end up questioning and debating what ‘art’ is and what ‘rural’ is; what is their function, and what it might mean to bring these two systems of knowledge, of practice and experience together? There seems to be an ongoing curiosity of how contemporary art might intersect with debates about rurality both in rural sociology circles and in contemporary art practice. Indeed, we have seen a great...

Localised Far Right Mobilisation in Timişoara, Romania

Figure 1: Timişoara’s Piaţa Traian is a contested area for the poor Roma access into architectural heritage buildings. Photo: Remus Creţan, 2019 The social, political and economic upheaval in Eastern Europe following the removal of the communist regimes that dominated region in 1989 has had lasting effects. The prospect of membership of the European Union opened the possibility of new opportunities and access to resources, enabling them to weather much of the transitional instability. Requirements for increased transparency and accountability...

25 Years of Gender, Work and Organisation- ‘Embodying the political resistance we live’

At the start of Gender, Work and Organization’s 25th Anniversary year, we reflected on the journal’s trajectory and outlined an editorial direction for the journal (Pullen, Lewis and Ozkazanc-Pan, 2019). Ending this year, we ask ourselves what a journal focusing on critical approaches to gender requires in the current socio-political climate? It is tempting to revisit our contributions to the journal and outline what we might like to see submitted in the future; we might like to cross-reference developments in...

Rural Poverty – do we need a sociological perspective?

Rural poverty has received relatively little attention from scholars in Europe or the USA, often regarded as secondary to more visible urban poverty. Lately, however, rural disadvantage has received unexpected attention, if only for its perceived role in generating political upheaval (see Krugman, Hank or Guilluy for example). Divergences between rural and metropolitan electoral results, support of populism in rural areas and even the rise of protest movements in the countryside have prompted a renewed interest in urban-rural disparities and...

Against false dichotomies in the politics and ethics of big data exploitations in public healthcare

Care.data was so short-lived. Announced in 2013 and scrapped 3 years later, it was never actually given the chance to serve its purposes and prove how it differed from other ‘revolutionary’ state health data research services. However, someone has only to read the transcripts of the special Health Committee to understand the confusion of the public, healthcare professionals and state institutions in England around this big data programme: how achievable it was, who could deliver it, to whose benefit or...

Profitability, Inequality and Climate Change

Climate change is the most serious challenge of the 21st century. Recent headline making events like wildfires in California, flooding in China, heatwaves in South Asia, and droughts in East Africa stem from human induced climate change. Scientists tells us that the risks associated with climate change are on course to intensify. This will result in enormous strain on human societies from the spread of diseases, human displacement, massive biodiversity loss, political conflict over resources, and higher mortality rates from extreme...