The working group on medical diversity brings together scholars working on medical knowledge, therapeutic practices and diversification. While the group is in its early stages of development we have already identified three interrelated fields of inquiry in which we hope to develop research projects:

(1) How medical practices react to diversity

Health institutions, medical practitioners and therapists have to care for an increasingly diverse population and work with an equally diverse staff. This diversity within clientele and staff encompasses ethnicity, gender, religion, language, legal and socio-economic status, life style, education, etc. I In the global context of new patterns of migration, this trend has been coined 'super-diversity'. [internal linkmore]

(2) How medical knowledge produces diversity

Medical knowledge does not only react to socio-cultural diversity within a population, but produces diversity itself by describing and classifying bodily differences and developing new technologies and social forms that contribute to processes of diversification. [internal linkmore]

(3) How medical knowledge and practices are diverse in themselves

Medical knowledge and practices provide multiple interpretations of bodily conditions (e.g. dopamine imbalance in the brain, spirit possession). Underlying these interpretations are multiple perceptions of social institutions (e.g. different understandings of how to deal with birth, dying and death). The interactions of these perceptions and understandings with socio-cultural differences produce their own modes of diversity. [internal linkmore]


(1) How medical practices react to diversity. Health institutions, medical practitioners and therapists have to care for an increasingly diverse population and work with an equally diverse staff. This diversity within clientele and staff encompasses ethnicity, gender, religion, language, legal and socio-economic status, life style, education, etc. I In the global context of new patterns of migration, this trend has been coined 'super-diversity'.

The working group is part of an international team working on a pilot study that aims to develop a research methodology for studying super-diversity and pathways to health care in Europe.

Pilot study Super-diversity and pathways to health care
Everyone has healthcare requirements that need to be met by the local healthcare system. The recently developed concept of “super-diversity” presents a new opportunity for understanding access to healthcare in contemporary Europe. The concept transcends previous theories of multiculturalism, in that it recognizes a level of socio-cultural, economic and legal complexity, which is distinguished by a dynamic interplay of overlapping variables including country of origin (comprising a variety of possible variations such as ethnicity, language, religious tradition, regional and local identities etc.), migration experience (often strongly related to gender, age, education, specific social networks, particular economic niches) and legal status (implying a wide variety of entitlements and restrictions). In the pilot study we conduct interviews with people from various backgrounds, including the majority populations with full access to health care in Germany, Sweden, Spain and England and use a narrative approach in order to analyse the pathways through the respective healthcare landscape.
Participants:
internal link Charlie Davison
internal link Gill Green
internal link Hannah Bradby
internal link Susann Huschke
internal link Gabi Alex
internal link Kristine Krause
internal link Felipe Morente Mejías
internal link Inmaculada Barroso Benítez

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(2) How medical knowledge produces diversity. Medical knowledge does not only react to socio-cultural diversity within a population, but produces diversity itself by describing and classifying bodily differences and developing new technologies and social forms that contribute to processes of diversification.

As one of the most powerful and globally recognised epistemologies, biomedical classifications can be translated into rights. The diagnosis of particular bodily and mental conditions thereby affects the social status of people and can be crucial for entitlements (e.g. pension schemes and particular treatments). Furthermore, new diagnostic technologies generate person related differences, which are mediated through new social forms and institutions, as in the case of genetic testing.

The working group will here develop collaboration with colleagues who work on disability and disorders, new technologies, paradigms of medical ethics, and issues of therapeutic and medical citizenship.
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(3) How medical knowledge and practices are diverse in themselves. Medical knowledge and practices provide multiple interpretations of bodily conditions (e.g. dopamine imbalance in the brain, spirit possession). Underlying these interpretations are multiple perceptions of social institutions (e.g. different understandings of how to deal with birth, dying and death). The interactions of these perceptions and understandings with socio-cultural differences produce their own modes of diversity.

The inherent multiplicity within biomedicine has been explored, challenging the general idea of coherence in medicine and pointing to the unstable and situated nature of therapeutic knowledge. Similarly, the topic of Medical Pluralism - the co-existence of different medical practices and forms of knowledge - has been a classical field of research. Debates have moved from an understanding of pluralism as consisting of separate systems to thinking about mixture and intersections of different therapeutic practices. Drawing on these two research traditions and departing from a view of medical systems or disciplines as notions with sharp boundaries, this working group seeks to enhance a perspective which foregrounds how boundaries are constantly reconfigured through intersecting markers of difference.

The working group has organised workshops, conference panels and one international conference related to these themes. [internal linkLink]
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