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Mapping out Medicalization
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social construction

How to Cite

Tom, Joshua. 2014. “Mapping Out Medicalization”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, November. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


This is an in-class activity designed to introduce the concept of medicalization, or the process by which human problems become understood, defined and treated as being medical in nature. This activity also provides the opportunity to discuss the avenues by which this process occurs and its social implications. I have used this on the first day of a...

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Subject Area(s):
Medical Sociology
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
College 100
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

Classes of 30-70 students seem to be ideal for this exercise, although it can be adapted for smaller or larger groups.
While this exercise works very well in courses where students have response clickers and the teacher has technology to show responses instantly in-class, it can be re-worked for classes where this technology is not used. A colleague...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. 1. Contextualize the relative medicalization of various states of affairs.
  2. 2. Discuss and develop an understanding of the processes by which medicalization occurs.
  3. 3. Understand the social implications of medicalization and the social construction of health.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. 1. Group discussion of the placement of various states of affairs on the continuum of "Yes" to "No"
  2. 2. Comparison of the properties of medical conditions versus non-medical conditions on the board during and following discussion.
  3. 3. Summarization of the points that have come from the discussion of the differences between medical and non-medical conditions, and solicitation of student responses to a writing prompt.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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