The main question being pondered is to what extent this influence goes? Three variations of the process of social control being affected by the medical field have been offered; the changing face of medicalization, the relatively new phenomenon of biomedicalization and the contradictory view of demedicalization. It appears that these processes vary across cultures (Conrad, 1992) and some examples have been documented though most research to date has focused on the Western world. This essay will discuss medicalization, biomedicalization and demedicalization and their relationship to social control in Western societies along with a brief overview of that changes that have occurred over the years. Finally, an attempt will be made to justify which of the processes is most relevant today.
Medicalization is seen to be a sociocultural process that consists of finding a way to use medical language to describe an issue (Conrad, 2005). A very clear-cut way to define medicalization has been that it is a ‘process whereby more and more of everyday life has come under medical dominion, influence and supervision’ (Zola, 1983). A common-day example of this is while in the past a patient was only required to disclose to their doctor the symptoms of the ailment, nowadays people also tend to articulate information about their lifestyle and habits and even worries (reference). For the doctor to improve the patient’s condition, it is often lifestyle changes that are recommended (reference). For conditions such as heart problems, numerous doctors recommend dietary changes even before there is any sign of heart trouble. The doctor is essentially trying to prevent a disease or ailment before it starts and in the process is inadvertently extending the web of medicalization and hence social control. Another fine example of this is in the case of testing for human immunodeficiency virus