Conclusions

In taking a structural approach to the production of health and disease, medical anthropology brings together socioeconomic determinants and clinical practice in the analysis of biomedicine. The result of this approach demonstrates that definitions of health and health care have a correlation with ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and gender that serve as lenses through which the biomedical establishment may be viewed. If good health is a scarce commodity in a complex society such as the United States, its distribution is necessarily dependent upon social status. Anthropological contributions to discussions of health and disease demonstrate that the administration of health care is a means of social control. Despite new health technologies and methods of health care delivery, their patterns of use are largely informed by entrenched social and political mores (e.g., Sinha, 2000). The advantage to the anthropological approach is that issues of power and agency are inserted into the dialogue of clinical biomedicine that otherwise narrowly focuses on pathogens and individual biological processes. By using the tools of social analysis, medical anthropology broadens the discussion forum to include issues of social control and social process into the realm of health care and disease treatment.

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