Category: Sociology of Health & Illness

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...