Date: December 2000
Creator: Freeland, Lisa New
Description: Medicalization has been discussed at length in the sociology of health and illness literature. Typically, dialogue has centered on the effects of medicalization and the process as a phenomenon in professional fields alone. This work is an attempt to study medicalization using a theoretical model, structuration, that allows for inclusion of the larger social system in understanding health system changes and to include consumers of health services in the process as active agents. The example of oral aesthetics provides an opportunity to identify the agents of change, the process of medicalization in the larger social context, and possible indicators of the phenomenon. An attempt to operationalize the complex concept of medicalization marks a move toward creating testable theoretical models for the variety of behaviors and conditions under study as medicalized. Using content analysis of professional dental journals and lay magazines and a review of system rules and resources, shifts in language use and the emergence of medical frameworks were documented to determine if a medicalization of oral aesthetics had occurred. Results show two distinct periods within the last century when oral aesthetics have been medicalized in the United States. Evidence of turn-taking behavior among the agents is noted as well ...
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