Health and medicine have interested demographers and public health experts more than social scientists in India. Foundational questions on the meaning and experience of health and the role of medicine, are glossed over as health and medicine are taken for granted and not opened up as objects for enquiry. How do we distinguish between health and ill-health, given that the experience of disease and its detection is deeply embedded in social settings? How do we distinguish something purely as a health problem from a problem of life or misfortune? Does the medical establishment define the rapidly increasing life-style problems as 'diseases' and medicate them? Social sciences try to answer such 'health experience' related questions by probing several situations and experiences to draw insights in a comparative perspective. On the role of medicine, people from different walks of life, the patient, the physician, the healthcare administrator, and pharmacologist, to name a few, use different standards to assess effectiveness of therapy. How do we understand the efficacy and effectiveness of cure when there are several competing standpoints?
What is the impact of privatisation and corporatisation of medicine on health? Drawing upon published social science research in the field, this book discusses many of these foundational questions. International scholarship on the sociology of health and medicine defines itself only in relation to allopathy/biomedicine and is yet to grapple with the theoretical implications of other contemporary theories of body and disease suggested by the continuity of Asian or African systems of medicine. This book introduces medical pluralism into the heart of social theory of health and medicine. A first of its kind, the book is aimed at showing the link between general questions on the one hand, and, the specific issues pertaining to health status, medical care, pharmaceutical industry and traditional medicine in India, on the other.
V. Sujatha is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Acknowledgements ; Preface and Introduction ; 1. Health, Medicine, and the Social Sciences: Some Glimpses and Insights ; 2. Explaining Health, Illness, and Society: Theoretical Approaches ; 3. Curing, Healing, and Culture ; 4. Health, Medicine, and the State: Historical Perspectives ; 5. Health Status and the Public Health System in India ; 6. The Private Sector in Health and Medicine: The Indian Story ; Conclusion ; Appendix ; Bibliography ; Index ; About the Author