The Meaning Management Challenge: Making Sense of Health, Illness and Disease


The Meaning Management Challenge: Making Sense of Health, Illness and Disease


Edited by Zhenyi Li and Thomas Lawrence Long

Year: 2010

Format: eBook


The twelve chapters in this book, in general, point to the same issue: the meaning management of health, illness and disease. This volume involves a socio-cultural course of action in which the right of each participant to make sense of health, illness and disease should be respected, and humility in modern biomedical sciences toward diversity ought to be emphasized.

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Health care is a social process where the meanings of health, illness and disease are negotiated among individuals and within communities. Their common task is to manage a dialogue on the meaning of a problem or diagnosis in order to agree on what to do about it. Meanings of health, illness and disease have been assigned by each culture and each member of that culture. Nothing appears more difficult in this globalising millennium when there are greater chances that care givers, receivers, and governing bodies from different cultures have to interact and collaborate more frequently and closely. Notions related to health, illness and disease that make sense to one group of people may frustrate another group due to the differences between their cultures.

Such a challenge can be overcome by proper meaning management, a process that can effectively and appropriately help each party in health care interact to collaborate with each other. In other words, people have been looking for a system that makes sense of health to everyone. Health science, a possible hope that can unify terms, concepts, and communication, has been proposed as the Esperanto to bridge the gaps and overcome the cultural incongruence in health care. But does it work this way or not? Why and how can it succeed or fail? In the summer of 2009, scholars from various disciplines and from around the globe met to explore their viewpoints in the 8th Global Conference: Making Sense of Health, Illness, and Disease at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, in England, hosted by Inter-Disciplinary.Net. Expanded versions of their peer-reviewed chapters are collected here.

Preface: The Meaning Management Challenge: Making Sense of Health, Illness and Disease
Zhenyi Li and Thomas Lawrence Long

Section 1 The Socio-cultural Perspective
Discrimination in Health Care Services
Marguerite Cognet, Emilie Adam-Vezina and Sandra Bascougnano

Global Rhetoric, Local Actors: Community Health Workers and the Concept of Participation in Rwanda
David MacDonald Matthews

Rural Community Leaders’ Perceptions of Healthy Leisure: Resources, Needs and Constraints
Julie Son, Shevon Harvey and Kim Shinew

Their Natures are Similar, Their Habits Make Them Different: The Cross-cultural Challenges for Chronic Disease Primary Prevention in Canada and the World
Zhenyi Li

Section 2 The Power Struggle
The Military Metaphors of Modern Medicine
Abraham Fuks

The Construction of a Non-medical Point of View regarding Medicine and Health: An Example of Self-Injury Internet Forums
Baptiste Brossard

The Legitimacy of Alternative Medicine: A Question of Science or Social Ethics and Cultural Politics?
Archie Graham

Assessment of Capacity, the Person and Ethical Questions
Sandip Talukdar

Section 3 The Contextual Approach
Integrative Approach for Estimation and Correction of Human Psychophysiological State
Larisa Kruglova

Cracking Up and Back Again: Transformation through Music and Poetry
Diane Leslie Kaufman and Karen Deborah Goodman

From Sponge to Source: Health Information in the Lives of Gay Men Living with HIV
Joel Minion, Peter Bath and Kendra Albright

AIDS and the Paradigms of Dissent
Thomas Lawrence Long

Zhenyi Li, PhD., is an Assistant Professor teaching Intercultural Communication at Royal Roads University, in Victoria, Canada. His research interest is health communication.

Thomas Lawrence Long, associate professor-in-residence in the School of Nursing at the University of Connecticut, is the author of AIDS and American Apocalypticism: The Cultural Semiotics of an Epidemic. His current research focuses on the concepts of the pariah and the monster within the discourses of disease.