What is the sociology of diagnosis? What is the sociology of diagnosis?

In 1978, Mildred Blaxter called upon sociologists to pay more attention to medical diagnosis, both as a category and as a process.  More than thirty years later, she published an authoritative  autobiographical paper that critically reflected upon the diagnostic pathway which led to the identification of her own, ultimately fatal cancer (Blaxter, 2009). Her insights into the nuances of diagnostic processes within the health care system provide important clues to the areas that demand attention in relation to diagnosis. Despite her earlier call, and its subsequent echo, via the work of Phil Brown (1995) it is only very recently that the sociology of diagnosis has finally begun to take shape and garner interest.  Jutel (2009) published an (already) extensively cited review article in Sociology of Health and Illness, and has elaborated the arguments in her book Putting a Name to It: Diagnosis in Contemporary Society (2011). With Nettleton, she guest-edited a Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine titled ‘A Sociology of Diagnosis’ (Jutel and Nettleton, 2011) which attracted several dozen submissions. Although rooted in medical sociology, this subfield draws upon related fields of study including science and technology studies, medical anthropology, organisational sociology, health policy, economics, bio-ethics and political debates on new social movements.

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