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History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 32, no. 4 (2010)
Article

Francisca Loetz, Why Change Habits? Early Modern Medical Innovation Between Medicalisation and Medical Culture


Abstract

Based on a discussion of the concept of medicalisation and medical culture in Anglo-American, French-, and German-speaking historiography the paper argues that medical innovation in Europe from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century should be approached in a different way. Instead of asking from the perspective of a too narrow concept of medicalisation why medical innovations were rejected by the population, (medical) historians should analyse medical culture and ask why people should have changed their health and illness behaviour. This conceptual argument is deduced from four empirical examples: the introduction of smallpox vaccination, “medical police,” the problem of medical professionalization, and the questions arising around the relations between the healthy/sick and their practitioners.


Keywords

Medicalisation, medical culture, medical innovation, patient, acculturation, methodology, popular medicine, agency, enlightenment, smallpox, medical police, practitioners, professionalization, clinic, enlightenment, medical topography, historiography


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