The Social Context of Health

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* In what way is health related to our sense of self-identity? * How do we make decisions about our health in an age of uncertainty? * Which developments in medical knowledge and the delivery of care change our ideas about health? The central theme running through this book is the essentially 'social' nature of health. This embraces the way medical knowledge emerged out of a specific set of historical and intellectual circumstances, and the shaping of the health professions by the cultural and political milieu of the nineteenth century. Like non-expert knowledge, the development and application of expert knowledge in health is embedded in social processes. In this accessible text the complex relationships between inequality, race, gender and other social divisions are examined and related to changes in health care. Problems central to the delivery of health care are highlighted and linked to challenges to established health-care professions and systems. Michael Hardey shows the way in which health has become part of our identity, and relates this to the increasing range of health advice and the constant choices available in terms of our health and lifestyles.