Medicine in Western Europe

Harold J. Cook

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546497
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Medicine in Western Europe

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This article encourages discussion of the multiplicity of sometimes rapidly changing practices that have always surrounded the maintenance of health and the treatment of illness. It points to one of the ways in which some medical activities in Western Europe were channelled in ways unlike most other regions of the world: the legal form of a ‘corporation’ has grown rapidly in the past millennium, making many informal social institutions into self-conscious and stable bodies. This article shows the ‘medicalization’ of life as an indication of the power of collective expertise in the service of the state. Medicalization was possible due to the expansion and proliferation of corporate bodies and professional organizations, which continued to protect the interests of their members. Medical activities organized around corporate bodies have shaped the recruitment and expenditure of effort and resources so as give rise to a kind of official medicine that has furthered the development of political economies and populations.

Keywords: health; treatment; medicalization; corporate bodies; medicine; Western Europe

Article.  9314 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History

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