The Medicalisation of Social Problems: The Role of States and Markets
Medicalisation has been a major theme in medical sociology since the 1970s. Personal and increasingly also social problems such as poverty and unemployment are defined in medical terms and thus become subject to medical and pharmaceutical interventions. A renewed interest in medicalisation can be observed in recent years. It may stem from the change in the driving forces of medicalisation that Conrad and Clarke have suggested: Rather than the medical profession, market (e.g., companies) and state (e.g., health policy) actors seem to be the engines behind medicalisation in the 21st century. While companies in globalised capitalism use medicalisation to gain profits, states’ rationales to engage in medicalisation are more complex. However, the resonance of medicalising (and thereby individualising) social problems with neoliberal reform and welfare state restructuring might be one important underlying mechanism. Unlike medicalisation processes that are driven by social movements and consumers, medicalisation through markets and the state reinvigorate questions of power and social control as well as the association of medicalisation with social stigma.
This session invites both theoretical and empirical studies that investigate the role of markets and states in the medicalisation of personal and social problems. Considerations on the individual level discussing the power of professionals or patients' adherence are also of interest. Comparative studies and studies from the Global South are particularly welcome.