Eeva Sointu | Critical Sociology
Even though much research underscores the significance of social inequalities in illness, the health consequences of inequity tend to occupy a marginal position in medical education. Drawing on qualitative interviews with third and fourth year medical students, this paper explores how future doctors understand and would improve health in the United States. While participants with background in public health and policy understand that social inequalities shape health and access to care, many others emphasize individual behaviour and motivation as central to ill health. Emphasizing health behaviour aligns with biomedical understandings of disease, and also captures the hold of neoliberal values over ideas of health and illness. Focus on health behaviour also provides a means of ignoring the racist roots of enduring inequity that underlies much ill health. Making inequity more visible in medical education and practice necessitates recognizing the sway of neoliberal thought over common-sense ideas of health and illness.