The Consumer Turn in Medicalization: Future Directions with Historical FoundationsFuture Directions with Historical Foundations

  • Anne E. Figert
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


The concept of medicalization is one of the most successful and enduring contributions to the field of medical sociology (Bird et al. 2000). Early thinking and empirical studies of medicalization focused primarily upon the notions of deviance and social control by the institution of medicine (Szasz 1974; Zola 1972; Conrad and Schneider 1980). Since then, the concept of medicalization has successfully migrated out of the sociological literature and into the mainstream public press (Nye 2003). For example, medicalization has its own Wikipedia entry, and there are YouTube sites on the medicalization of childbirth, circumcision, and autism. Public use of sociological terms is not new. Medicalization follows the path of other “successful” sociological concepts such as anomie, focus groups, social networks, and gender. Like all things academic, there is a need to continually shape and refine our concepts and techniques to keep them current and relevant. In order for medicalization to remain an important concept in the twenty-first century, sociologists need to continually adapt the concept in relationship to structural and cultural changes in society.


Social Movement Medicalization Process Medical Encounter Mental Health Consumer Expert Patient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA

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