Healthism: a new conservatism?

Qual Health Res. 2008 Jul;18(7):974-82. doi: 10.1177/1049732308320444.


Health care is a space occupied, shaped, and colonized by a variety of players at a variety of times. Such players include health practitioners of different kinds; individuals referred to variously and even simultaneously as consumers/patients/clients/customers, depending on who is doing the speaking and in what contexts; families and significant others; managers; accountants; lawyers; educators; and researchers, as well as governments both local and national. Players move in and out of this space (or are allowed in or are moved out) all the time. They might find parts of themselves/their lives/their situations in this space, whereas other parts are not found there. Health care is indeed a contested and troubled space, one that is increasingly uncertain and ambiguous. In this article, I explore aspects of this uncertainty and ambiguity in current health care practice and what this might mean for individuals receiving the services and those providing and/or researching those services.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mortality
  • Physical Fitness
  • Qualitative Research