Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

Editorial

Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

Editorial

Article excerpt

As this edition goes to press, a rather more important event (in the grand scheme of history) is taking place: the legislative approval of the ownership of private property in China. Given that it is a Friday evening, the building quiet, the editor all but deserted by her comrades; it is not difficult to hear the small sounds of Karl and Frederich struggling within their dark and lonely graves as they too hear the news. Reflecting, with furrowed brow, on this historic moment, I am rather abashed to admit we have no articles in this edition about health care in China. Nevertheless, I am comforted a little by the thought that readers may look back to past issues of Health Sociology Review where privatisation in China has been featured prominently.

In this edition there is much to offer the reader about the health care context or service systems of many other countries. Papers have made their way to my Sydney office across the intangibility of cyberspace from places as distant as Canada, Singapore, Trinidad, and France; and as close as Queensland, South Australia, northern New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. Three major themes have, somewhat serendipitously, emerged in our selection of papers: the challenges and opportunities faced by medicine from an ageing population; the impact on wellbeing of continuing social stigma; and the analysis of new trends and processes within the organisation of medicine and service delivery.

The papers of Alex Dumas and Bryan Turner, Joanna Sikora and Frank Lewins, address this first theme. Both focus on the ethical implications of new and older technologies which might lengthen or shorten an individual's life. For Dumas and Turner, the capacity to extend human life, perhaps indefinitely, raises concerns about the possibility of simultaneously increasing social inequality. For Sikora and Lewins, community condemnation of some forms of euthanasia indicate a more optimistic future (or at least not a more pessimistic one), in which an individual human life continues to have meaning.

The second theme emerges first in the paper from David Plummer and Pol McCann. In this exploration of the relationship between homophobia and heterosexuality, we are confronted with the darker side of our school playgrounds and schools: the construction of gender through processes of stigmatisation, exclusion, violence and harassment. …

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