Author(s): Herzlich C, Pierret J
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Abstract The way individual conceptions and experiences of illnesses are socially constructed is shown through the historical analysis of diseases, particularly epidemics. For centuries, sickness did not clearly correspond to what we now call the patient status. Several factors were necessary for this social status to develop. Sickness had to cease being a mass phenomenon. Medicine had to become capable of providing efficacious treatment and of taking the sick out of the custody of religious institutions. Through social legislation, the notions of illness and of health had to be related to the world of work. Owing to the first two factors, sickness was transformed from a collective into an individual affair, from a way of dying into a way of living. Once related to production processes and medical custody, it became the individual's social condition.
This article was published in Soc Sci Med
and referenced in Anthropology