Over a decade after medical sociologist Phil Brown called for a sociology of diagnosis, Putting a Name to It provides the first book-length, comprehensive framework for this emerging subdiscipline of medical sociology.
Diagnosis is central to medicine. It creates social order, explains illness, identifies treatments, and predicts outcomes. Using concepts of medical sociology, Annemarie Goldstein Jutel sheds light on current knowledge about the components of diagnosis to outline how a sociology of diagnosis would function. She situates it within the broader discipline, lays out the directions it should explore, and discusses how the classification of illness and framing of diagnosis relate to social status and order. Jutel explains why this matters not just to doctor-patient relationships but also to the entire medical system. As a result, she argues, the sociological realm of diagnosis encompasses not only the ongoing controversy surrounding revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in psychiatry but also hot-button issues such as genetic screening and pharmaceutical industry disease mongering.
Both a challenge and a call to arms, Putting a Name to It is a lucid, persuasive argument for formalizing, professionalizing, and advancing longstanding practice. Jutel's innovative, open approach and engaging arguments will find support among medical sociologists and practitioners and across much of the medical system.
"Putting a Name to It is a leap forward in understanding the importance of diagnosis. This most ordinary of activities is surprisingly complicated, shaped by political, economic, scientific, ethical, and cultural contexts. From clinical encounters to insurance reimbursements to social movements, diagnosis is very complex. Jutel's synthesis, combined with interesting examples and lively theoretical approach, does a great job."—Phil Brown, Brown University
"Lively, engaging, and conceptually innovative, this book makes a significant contribution to the sociology of health and illness. Hitherto, diagnosis so pivotal to medical practice has not received comprehensive analysis; Jutel's text rectifies this. The combination of empirical examples and social theorizing makes this text a must read for sociologists who want to understand medical practice, medical work, and medical knowledge."—Dr. Sarah Nettleton, University of York
"Eclectic and nuanced, Putting a Name to It effectively reveals the cultural complexity and sociological importance of diagnosis. Jutel's detailed and fascinating case studies skillfully and with considerable empathy capture the troubling world of people whose suffering cannot or will not be reduced to an agreed-upon mechanism."—Robert Aronowitz, University of Pennsylvania
Annemarie Goldstein Jutel is the director of research at the Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.