1st Edition

Bodies at Risk An Ethnography of Heart Disease

By Elizabeth E. Wheatley Copyright 2006

    In Bodies at Risk, Elizabeth Wheatley provides a fascinating ethnography of heart disease. She looks at what happens to someone after a heart attack and how they get on with 'business as usual' in the wake of a potentially fatal medical crisis. How are daily routines, personal identities, families, friends, and careers affected and rearranged after diagnosis and treatment? This book examines the unfinished business of having and handling heart disease. The research is based on one-on-one and collective interviews, focus groups and participant observation in hospitals, cardiac rehabilitation clinics, and in people's homes. As heart disease is one of the major causes of death in the western world, this book is both timely and important. It is inspired by and contributes to sociological writing on the body, risk, experiences of illness, and medicalization, and will appeal to academics and students in these areas as well as in cultural studies, health-related consumption, health promotion and qualitative health research.

    Contents: Introduction; Suspicious bodies, troubled minds: emotionality, corporeality, and reflexivity in cardiac reskilling; Negotiating acceptable risk: collaboration, compromise and contestation in cardiac reskilling; Disciplining bodies at risk: cardiac rehabilitation and the medicalization of fitness; Reskilling with style: doubting and trusting in cardiac expertise; Reflexive reskilling in a risk culture; Bibliography; Index.


    Elizabeth E. Wheatley is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Smith College, USA.

    'Elizabeth Wheatley's Bodies at Risk is a delight. It takes us to the heart of the experience of heart disease and is a timely advance in our understanding of social aspects of risk, embodied reflexivity and the emotions. These eloquent stories of "reskilling" in the face of imponderable risks and threats offer something to us all, as we negotiate risk society in our all too frail bodies.' Robin Bunton, University of Teesside, UK '...this book is not just about heart disease but provides a great resource for researchers and teachers who analyze the social and other determinants of health. Perhaps it should also be compulsory reading for all hospital ethics committees.' Health Sociology Review