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Illness and Disability

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Dingwall (1976) describes “illness and disability to be constructed through the meanings and interpretations that are accorded to certain categories of experience and there is no necessary relationship to any biological happening” (p.

“Local cultural orientations (the patterned ways that we have learned to think about and act in our life worlds and that replicate the social structure of those worlds) organize our convention common sense about how to understand and treat illness; thus we can say illness experiences are culturally shaped

Conventional expectations about illness are altered through negotiations in different social situations and in particular webs of relationships

Expectations about how to behave will also differ owing to our unique individual biographies

Chronic illness assimilates to a life course, contributing so intimately to the development of a particular life that illness becomes inseperable from life history

Social reality is so organized that we do not routinely inquire into the meanings of illness anymore than we regularly analyze the structure of our social world. The materialist opursuit of the biological mechanism of disease precludes such inquiry. It turns the gaze away from decoding the salient meanings of illness for them, which interferes with recognition of disturbing but potentially treatable problems in their life world. The bio-medical system replaces this allegedly soft, thefore devalued, psychosocial converge

with meanings with the scientifically hard, therefore valued, technical quest for the control of symptoms. This disables the healer, and disempowers the chronically ill.

Local cultural systems and practices define the norm and standardize shared experiences.

Implicitin the first-level meaning of symptoms are accepted forms of knowledge about the body, the self, and their relationship to eachother and the more intimate aspects of our life worlds.



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