Social Criticisms Of Medicalization

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The socially constructed nature of these medicalizing ideas is the basis of another criticism of the process: because medicalization frequently reproduces power dynamics and social structures, it may create both new inequalities and exacerbate existing ones. This results in some groups being subject to greater social control than others, as well as new forms of medical discrimination. These consequences of medicalization have often been attributed to its individualizing effects, as it is people’s bodies and not the surrounding social environment that is seen as the cause of illness. According to Erik Parens, “insofar as medicine focuses on changing individuals’ bodies to reduce suffering, its increasing influence steals attention and resources …show more content…
One example is that of discrimination in the workplace based on mental illness, as behaviors that were previously non-medical in nature have now been defined as the symptoms of various disorders, which can then influence employment decisions. In any case, it is apparent that although sociologists may not consider medicalization to be directly responsible for social inequalities, it does occur in a way that reproduces power structures in the creation and perpetuation of inequality. Finally, criticisms of medicalization may consider the process to facilitate violations of the very ideals of health care. Although medical professionals are expected to have their patients’ best interests in mind, by expanding definitions of what can be considered medical, health care professionals may simultaneously narrow the range of what is acceptable and “transform aspects of everyday life into pathologies” (Conrad, 2007, p. 7). This may reduce the complexity of illness in that “virtually anything” may be considered medical (Maturo, …show more content…
As medicalization represents a form of social change that is complex in its manifestations, sociologists in particular have studied its wide range of effects on both individuals on individuals and greater society. In particular, this process has been criticized as medical authorities and governments may use medicalization as an effective tool of social control for those deemed medically abnormal or undesirable. It has also been shown to produce new inequalities based on these medical definitions, as well as exacerbate existing disparities as its individualizing effects may ignore social environments and reproduce hierarchical power structures. Finally, medicalization may be criticized in its involvement in profit-making, heavy marketing towards consumers, and the resulting departure from ideals of health care. Although these effects may not be immediately apparent, it nevertheless remains important to consider the issue of medicalization in light of its role in changes in the medical industry, as well as in society as a

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