Contemporary Crises

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 195–205 | Cite as

Implications of changing social policy for the medicalization of deviance

  • Peter Conrad


Since medicalization of deviance is ade facto rather than explicit social policy, it is affected by policy changes in the medical and criminal justice systems. I have pointed to some of the implications of changing social policy on medicalizing deviance. In summary, it appears likely that social policies such as decriminalization, decarceration, the production of more physicians and the enactment of national health insurance may encourage more medicalization. On the other hand, increased individual responsibility for health, the fiscal crisis in medical costs, and the punitive backlash may discourage medicalization and promote some demedicalization. What seems clear from this vantage point, however, is that medicalization of deviance, with few exceptions, remains a residual product of other social policies and its consequences are usually overlooked in policy deliberations. Since medicalization has important social consequences [32], it should be afforded consideration in policy discussions.


Health Insurance National Health Social Policy Criminal Justice Medical Cost 
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Copyright information

© Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Conrad
    • 1
  1. 1.Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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