1st Edition

Social Justice and Medical Practice Life History of a Physician of Social Medicine

By Merrill Singer, Rebecca Allen Copyright 2018
    248 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    246 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    How do we understand and respond to the pressing health problems of modern society? Conventional practice focuses on the assessment and clinical treatment of immediate health issues presented by individual patients. In contrast, social medicine advocates an equal focus on the assessment and social treatment of underlying social conditions, such as environmental factors, structural violence, and social injustice.

    Social Justice and Medical Practice examines the practice of social medicine through extensive life history interviews with a physician practicing the approach in marginalized communities. It presents a case example of social medicine in action, demonstrating how such a practice can be successfully pursued within the context of the existing structure of twenty-first-century medicine. In examining the experience of a physician on the frontlines of reforming health care, the book critiques the restrictive nature of the dominant clinical model of medicine and argues for a radically expanded focus for modern-day medical practice.

    Social Justice and Medical Practice is a timely intervention at a time when even advanced health care systems are facing multiple crises. Lucidly written, it presents a striking alternative and is important reading for students and practitioners of medicine and anthropology, as well as policy makers.

    Introduction: A Road Less Taken
    1. Alternatives in Medical Practice and their Social and Personal Implications
    2. The Social Construction of Disease Conception and Treatment in Biomedicine
    3. Being a Person, Becoming a Doctor
    4. Inside the Beast: An Engaged Physician and Modern Medical Institutions
    5. Struggling for Health Equity from the Inner City to Rural Farms
    6. Putting People First: Envisioning a Healthy Society


    Merrill Singer is a professor in the departments of anthropology and community medicine, at the University of Connecticut, U.S.A. A medical and cultural anthropologist, his research focuses on the social determinants of health inequality, the critical biosocial nature of health, and environmental health. He is recipient of a number of prizes, including the Rudolph Virchow Professional Prize and George Foster Memorial Award for Practicing Anthropology.

    Rebecca Allen completed a BA in Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, USA, where she was president of the university’s chapter of Lambda Alpha, the National Collegiate Honors Society for Anthropology. She is now a medical student at George Washington University, U.S.A.