28 - 31 August 2013
Torino, Italy

RN16 – Sociology of Health and Illness

Coordinator:
Anders Petersen apt@socsci.aau.dk Aalborg University, Denmark

The ‘crisis’ in health and healthcare in contemporary Europe

The notion of ‘crisis’ abounds in discussions of health in contemporary European societies. The emphasis however has been on the economic and political dimensions, which disguises many other facets, including health.

Globally, health disparities between socio-economic groups and between countries are widening. The neo-liberalization and commercialization of health care continues apace. Access to healthcare is becoming more difficult for many as in many countries public sector funding is reduced and private providers enter healthcare in increasing numbers. Alongside this the bioeconomy is growing while the biomedical model is increasingly under challenge by ‘alternative’ healing practices. The dominance of medical professionals is contested as healthcare providers diversify, changes in health promotion and illness prevention recommendations are constantly occurring and patients are encouraged to be more active on their own health and are ‘nudged’ to adopt lifestyle changes to deal with the chronic illnesses that predominate in European countries.

How far can these be seen as s a direct consequence of “economic and political crises”? To what extent are they a broader manifestation of wider societal changes characteristic of the age of late modernity? And what are the actual life stories of persons experiencing such crises in different parts of Europe? And how should we study them, what novel and innovative theories and methods are called for? What ethical issues arise?

RN16 calls for papers that address the issue of “crisis” in health of contemporary (European) societies and in the related domain of health care (covering both physical and mental health and wellbeing).

Sessions

Joint Sessions

  • b0219JS16Patients, Citizens and Professionals in Europe: Modern Health Care Societies in Crisis

    Joint session with RN19 – Sociology of Professions

    Chairs: Gunnar Scott Reinbacher & Ruth McDonald

    In a context of rising healthcare costs generally and more specifically the global financial and economic crisis, nation states throughout Europe have responded by attempting to cut healthcare spending and to devolve responsibility for health from the state on to citizens. This raises questions about the way in which stakeholders such as citizens and professionals are responding. There has been a tendency for sociologists of the professions to view professions as self-interested, engaged in professional projects to increase status and resources for their members. However, a more altruistic view sees professionals as engaged in struggles to defend the public and patient interest.

    The aim of this joint session is to understand, how crises are influencing professions and professionals in Healthcare and the ways in which this relates to the interest of patients and citizens. But not only understand but also see possibilities for critique and opposition to this trend.

    Some of the themes that the session could address is:

    • How does the state respond to the crises, maybe by trying to shift responsibility to others and to specific groups outside of the state? To what extent are there similarities and differences between nation states and how might we understand these?
    • What happens to professional identity in the context of state responses to financial crisis and what are the implications for professionals and patients?
    • How far do theories of professions, which are informed by Weberian views of closure, account for responses to crisis? How else might we understand and theorise these developments?
    • How do states/3rd party payers use levers to try to change behaviors of citizens and professionals?
    • To what extent can citizens and patients enter into alliances with professionals to defend ‘the public good’ in the context of such crises?
    • The many Years of improvement in Healthcare, protection on patients information, quality of care, are these processes threatened during the crises, do we have to start up again in ten Years?
    • Professionals are taking part in getting citizens to change behaviors through nudging processes and ‘self-management’ programmes which can be seen as ‘responsibilsation’ of citizens. To what extent should health care professionals take on state sponsored agendas on these issues? Are there ways in which professionals and citizens can colonise this agenda to defend broad conceptions of citizenship which have traditionally underpinned European welfare states in recent years?
  • a04JS19JS16Professionals, Citizens and the Production of Health

    Joint session with RN19 – Sociology of Professions

    Ruth McDonald, ruth.mcdonald@nottingham.ac.uk University of Nottingham Chair

  • 05_16JS28Gender, Health and Physical Activity (1)

    Joint session with RN28 – Society and Sports

    Chair: Ellen Annandale <ellen.annandale@york.ac.uk>, University of York Oliver Williams <osw1@leicester.ac.uk>, University of Leicester

    The recent ‘obesity epidemic’ currently afflicting affluent societies around the world has prompted a focus on ‘healthy citizenship’. This has stimulated a lifestyle-focused approach to reducing the collective waistline of societies across the globe as seen in the focus on diets, behaviours considered to be unhealthy (e.g. smoking and alcohol consumption) and raising physical activity levels. This session will focus on how, and in what ways, gender both influences, and is influenced by, physical activity and what is understood as being ‘healthy’. Therefore, it offers an opportunity to consider the ways in which the gendered body is implicated in this most modern of crises.

    We invite empirical and theoretical papers addressing such issues as: •The gendering of exercise and health behaviours. •The gendered construction of the healthy and active body. •The perception of ‘healthy lifestyles’ and the performance of gender. •The relationship between health, physicality and the construction of gendered identities.

  • 06_16JS28Gender, Health and Physical Activity (2)

    Joint session with RN28 – Society and Sports

    Chair: Oliver Williams <osw1@leicester.ac.uk>, University of Leicester Ellen Annandale <ellen.annandale@york.ac.uk>, University of York

    The recent ‘obesity epidemic’ currently afflicting affluent societies around the world has prompted a focus on ‘healthy citizenship’. This has stimulated a lifestyle-focused approach to reducing the collective waistline of societies across the globe as seen in the focus on diets, behaviours considered to be unhealthy (e.g. smoking and alcohol consumption) and raising physical activity levels. This session will focus on how, and in what ways, gender both influences, and is influenced by, physical activity and what is understood as being ‘healthy’. Therefore, it offers an opportunity to consider the ways in which the gendered body is implicated in this most modern of crises.

    We invite empirical and theoretical papers addressing such issues as: •The gendering of exercise and health behaviours. •The gendered construction of the healthy and active body. •The perception of ‘healthy lifestyles’ and the performance of gender. •The relationship between health, physicality and the construction of gendered identities.

  • 16JS28Gender, Health and Physical Activity

    Joint session with RN28 – Society and Sports

    Chairs: Oli Williams & Ellen Annandale

    The recent ‘obesity epidemic’ currently afflicting affluent societies around the world has prompted a focus on ‘healthy citizenship’. This has stimulated a lifestyle-focused approach to reducing the collective waistline of societies across the globe as seen in the focus on diets, behaviours considered to be unhealthy (e.g. smoking and alcohol consumption) and raising physical activity levels. This session will focus on how, and in what ways, gender both influences, and is influenced by, physical activity and what is understood as being ‘healthy’. Therefore, it offers an opportunity to consider the ways in which the gendered body is implicated in this most modern of crises.

    We invite empirical and theoretical papers addressing such issues as:

    • The gendering of exercise and health behaviours.
    • The gendered construction of the healthy and active body.
    • The perception of ‘healthy lifestyles’ and the performance of gender.
    • The relationship between health, physicality and the construction of gendered identities.
  • 16JS31JS35On Disadvantaged Populations within Health Care Systems in Contemporary Europe: The Case of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities

    Joint session with RN31 – Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism and RN35 – Sociology of Migration

    Chair: Adam Burgess <A.Burgess@kent.ac.uk> University of Kent

    The current economic recession and political crisis are being used as arguments to states to cut social welfare. In this context, health disparities between socio-economic groups are widening; healthcare rights are diminishing. The first populations targeted by these cutting politics seem to be deprived migrants and, in a more indirect way, ethnic minorities. Discourses on the supposed economic burden of these populations for European healthcare systems are continuously leaked by the media, but also how professionals and civil organisations are claiming for civil disobedience. How far can these be seen as a direct consequence of economic recession and political crises? What new (?) morality discourses are rising to justify the new colored frontiers within European health systems? What are the actual life stories of persons experiencing such crises in different parts of Europe? And how should we study them, what novel and innovative theories and methods are called for?


Thank you very much to all participants for making esa torino an outstanding conference.