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Marxist Approaches to the Sociology of Health

Marxist Approaches to the Sociology of Health


MARXIST APPROACHES TO THE SOCIOLOGY OF HEALTH The categorization of an approach as 'Marxist' has always been prob- lematic, whether in terms of the two Marxisms (252), or the distinctions between neo-Marxist and post-Marxist perspectives (443). Notwith- standing this difficulty it is worth broadly characterising the general orientation of Marxist approaches to the sociology of health and illness. Medicine in advanced capitalist societies is oriented towards curing disease through the application of sophisticated drugs and the use of high cost technology; paradoxically the major causes of mortality and morbidity in these societies, though alleviated by, are not amenable to cure by such treatment and would be better tackled by an approach that emphasised caring. At the same time medicine places responsibility for these diseases with the individual, and to the extent that it is involved in preventative medicine, it is along the lines of admonishing individuals to modify their own life style patterns (75; 76; 437). As Renaud (493:564) points out: '... with such a paradigm society is epistemologically eliminated as an important element in the etiology of disease ... (this) engineering approach transforms the largely social determinants of morbidity and mortality into a value loaded rational system
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