Biomedicalization and the Practice of Culture: Globalization and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States and Japan

Biomedicalization and the Practice of Culture: Globalization and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States and Japan

Biomedicalization and the Practice of Culture: Globalization and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States and Japan

Biomedicalization and the Practice of Culture: Globalization and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States and Japan

Synopsis

Over the last twenty years, type 2 diabetes skyrocketed to the forefront of global public health concern. In this book, Mari Armstrong-Hough examines the rise in and response to the disease in two societies: the United States and Japan. Both societies have faced rising rates of diabetes, but their social and biomedical responses to its ascendance have diverged. To explain the emergence of these distinctive strategies, Armstrong-Hough argues that physicians act not only on increasingly globalized professional standards but also on local knowledge, explanatory models, and cultural toolkits. As a result, strategies for clinical management diverge sharply from one country to another. Armstrong-Hough demonstrates how distinctive practices endure in the midst of intensifying biomedicalization, both on the part of patients and on the part of physicians, and how these differences grow from broader cultural narratives about diabetes in each setting.

Excerpt

It was the middle of winter, and I was sitting in a narrow classroom with an institutional linoleum floor, fluorescent lights, and windows overlooking a parking lot. Fifteen or so students, mostly men over the age of 40, sat uncomfortably at long tables facing a whiteboard, on which a nurse had drawn several figures illustrating insulin receptors. Having finished her explanation, she was erasing the figures.

“Next, let’s talk about food,” she said in crisp, authoritative Japanese. “Please turn to page 38 in your books.”

We obediently flipped through the pages of our hospital-issued textbooks until we came to a page with pictures of several different meals, accompanied by nutritional information.

“Well, what are good foods?”

A gaunt man in a work jumpsuit raised his hand. “Vegetables,” he said.

“Rice!” said a woman in the back.

“Japanese foods,” said another.

Konnyaku.”

The nurse nodded in approval and launched into a practical explanation of healthy meal planning for the management of type 2 diabetes. She pointed to the photographed examples of appropriately balanced and portioned breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Every meal pictured included a small bowl of rice.

A little while later, the nurse prompted us for “danger” foods.

“What should we be careful of?” she asked.

“Fried foods.”

Western foods.”

“Eating out.”

“Beer and sake, things like that.”

An elderly man to my right turned and looked at me forlornly. Even though I was crammed uncomfortably behind a table like the other students, I wore my white lab coat and a hospital identification badge.

“But it’s okay to drink a little sake, right?” he asked hopefully.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.