The aim of this talk is to ‘trouble’ diagnosis. To this end we will ask questions such as: What is a diagnosis? Why might sociologists be interested in medical diagnosis? What are the consequences of diagnosis for individuals and for society at large? Can diagnostic categories ever be politically neutral?
It will be argued that diagnosis serves as a prism which absorbs and reflects a wealth of issues central to the experience and practice of medicine and health care. Diagnosis is a process and a category; moreover a diagnosis may also be consequential socially, psychologically and ethically. Diagnostic practices therefore are also of economic and political significance.
Although medical sociologists have explored issues around diagnosis for many decades, more recently some are seeking to identify the parameters for a sociology of diagnosis as a distinct field of study. This presentation will provide an overview of some of these recent developments and end by raising some questions and issues that a research agenda centering on a sociology of diagnosis might seek to explore.
Sarah Nettleton is a Professor of Sociology, in the Department of Sociology, University of York. She has researched issues relating to medical work, the experience of illness, and public health for over three decades. She has a particular interest in the sociology of the body and embodiment. She is the author of a text book Sociology of Health and Illness (Polity Press, 2013 – Third edition)