Henry E. Sigerist: From the Social Production of Disease to Medical Management and Scientific Socialism

The historical tradition of social medicine as implicit social criticism was built around the analysis of disease incidence. Henry Sigerist had a dual vision of the physician’s role in addressing the incidence of disease: as participant or leader of the “people’s war” for health that promoted needed changes in social and economic organization, and as the provider of individualized preventive and curative care. What connected these positions for Sigerist was his view of the politics of science and scientific medicine, where socialism represented the form of society in which the benefits of science would be equitably distributed. In placing such high value on science and technology as means of assuring equality of access to health care, however, he failed to see the ways in which science itself is culturally determined.

Author(s): Elizabeth Fee

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Volume 67, Issue S1 (pages 127–150)
Published in 1989