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Cultural Studies of Health

SISP 262
Spring 2018
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: SOC 259, AMST 272
Course Cluster: Disability Studies, Health Studies

Nothing is more fundamental to the human condition than our most basic right--the right to healthy life. Tragically, this right is inequitably distributed across human bodies and populations, especially along axes of race, gender, class, age, and nationality. In fact, persons residing in the U.S. do not have a right to healthy life. Issues of health and illness are, quite literally, matters of life and death that are shaped by broader political and economic institutions in human societies. In neoliberal nation states like the U.S., the guardian of the right to live a healthy life is a highly bureaucratic and technological form of corporate medicine. Medicine comprises a network of social institutions and technoscientific practices that people have created and use to diagnose and heal our bodily and psychic ills. While the practice of medicine has produced dramatic improvements in life expectancy and quality of life for billions of people, most people on the planet do not have access to basic medical care. Who thrives, who gets sick, who dies, and why constitute core questions for social justice.

This course investigates the complex embroidery of biosocial and cultural processes that shape the unequal experiences and meanings of health. Cultural studies of health document the role of medicine as a great instrument of power that both generates and alleviates suffering. As more and more areas of social life and parts of bodies are falling under the control of medicine (a process called medicalization), we must ask, What are the dynamics and implications of medicalization for human societies and cultures? Drawing on provocative readings and media from diverse fields in sociology and cultural studies of science, technology, and medicine, this course will investigate these questions and more with an emphasis on the answers to them might contribute to social justice and improve the conditions necessary for human thriving. 
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS SISP
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HRAD-MN)(SOC)
Past Enrollment Probability: Less than 50%

Last Updated on JUL-16-2024
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