169.6 Pharmaceuticalization of society through the popular healthy life discourse: The case of Turkey

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 3:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Nihan BOZOK , Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
Mehmet BOZOK , Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
It has been discussed in the last two decades within the literature of sociology of health that the pharmaceuticalization of society has many aspects such as medicalization of the certain periods of life and daily life, health consumerism, promotions and marketing strategies of pharmaceutical industry and health policies of the state. This presentation is going to focus on the popular healthy life discourse in Turkey as one of the aspects and causes of pharmaceuticalization of society.

Popular healthy life discourse seems to aspire to make individuals live longer and healthier by informing individuals about the conditions of healthy body and invites them to control and discipline their bodily conditions and lifestyle choices. In Turkey, this discourse has pervaded through the popular medicine and anti-aging experts who show up in the television programs and write daily articles in the newspapers and internet since the last decade. On the one hand, these experts describe the symptoms of diseases such as cancer, AIDS, osteoclasis, chronic illnesses. On the other hand, they offer herbal remedy prescriptions by reference to the herbalist origins of traditional Turkish medicine. They don’t only inform and alert individuals who suffer from a certain disease, but also the pre-patients and/or potential patients. At the first glance healthy life discourse seems as if it opens the way of one’s becoming her/his own doctor. However, experts, who are the actors of the information bombardment of healthy life and creators of the lay explanations of sophisticated medical language in Turkey, make health fall under continuous scrutiny of individual her/himself and give support to the process of transformation of patients and pre-patients into consumers of health services and medical drugs. This presentation is going to investigate this process as a certain aspect of pharmaceuticalization of society.