postmodernist approaches to health

all you need to know on the postmodern appraoch to health

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Postmodernists believe that modern industrialised societies such as Britain are evolving into
post industrial and post modern societies. This means that the employment structure is
increasingly becoming more focused on the service sector and that personal identity is
changing. Postmodernists say that modern people get their identity from their job, wage,
gender, religion and ethnicity. However people are increasingly becoming identified by
consumption and what they buy. Identities are now often shaped by what we look like, what
we eat, the clothes we wear, the technology we have etc. postmodern sociologists argue that
postmodern societies offer people a greater range of choices in regard to identity through
advertising and the mass media. Consequently things that were seen as unacceptable or
disapproved of 50 years ago have now become normal such as being a vegetarian or being
Postmodernist approaches to health
Health and illness and identity, individuality and the body
Giddens a postmodern sociologist argues that in a post modern society the physical
body has become a site for making statements about personal identity.
Shilling suggests that in the postmodern world the physical body is seen as an
unfinished product or project that can be improved upon in order to express identity.
Shilling points out that in the past ways of improving the body were restricted to
hairstyle, cosmetics and clothing. However in postmodern societies there are
considerably more choices available to people in terms of how they may achieve
identity through their body such as tattoos, piercings, cosmetic surgery and Botox,
and sexual reorientation surgery. However postmodern sociologists also note the
dangers of pursuing the quest for identity through their body such as eating disorders
and the iatrogenic consequences of cosmetic surgery such as the PIP breast implant
Complementary and alternative medicine
Postmodern sociologists have also questioned the dominance of the biomedical model in
postmodern society as they argue that the biomedical models dominance of the NHS has
been challenged in postmodern societies by complementary and alternative approaches to
health such as reiki, herbal remedies, acupuncture and osteopathy.
Alternative medical approaches tend to be `holistic' they see the causes of illness
as located in a breakdown in the relationship between the body and the mind/spirit of
the ill person. Consequently these approaches believe that the mind or spirit needs
to be treated in conjunction with the body if the problem is to be cured.
Hardey argues that the popularity of alternative medicine is the result of the general
public no longer uncritically believing in the authority of scientific medicine. Some
people are now actively questioning the idea that they should give themselves
completely over to the power of doctors, or subject themselves to treatments
which they do not understand. Furthermore the iatrogenic consequences of some

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The result of this has been a partial rejection of the traditional biomedical model in
favour of seeking alternative therapies from the wide range available. Moreover
postmodernists believe that people today are now more interested in medical
approaches that allow for selfexpression and individual choice such as yoga and
Hunt and lightly identified 5 reasons why alternative medicine and practices have
become so popular
1.…read more

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People are becoming disillusioned with medical science and consequently there
has been a decline in the idea that `doctor knows best' because of problems
like iatrogenesis.
A much wider range of behaviour is tolerated today this makes the
distinction between `normal', `eccentric', `creative' and mental illness far less
Consequently, people in postmodern society no longer instantly defer to the medical
profession as in the past and they are more likely to question the way doctors
operate.…read more


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