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Biomedicalization and the Practice of Culture

Globalization and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States and Japan

By Mari Armstrong-Hough

186 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4668-8
    Published: December 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4667-1
    Published: December 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4669-5
    Published: November 2018

Studies in Social Medicine

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Over the last twenty years, type 2 diabetes skyrocketed to the forefront of global public health concern. In this book, Mari Armstrong-Hough examines the rise in and response to the disease in two societies: the United States and Japan. Both societies have faced rising rates of diabetes, but their social and biomedical responses to its ascendance have diverged. To explain the emergence of these distinctive strategies, Armstrong-Hough argues that physicians act not only on increasingly globalized professional standards but also on local knowledge, explanatory models, and cultural toolkits. As a result, strategies for clinical management diverge sharply from one country to another. Armstrong-Hough demonstrates how distinctive practices endure in the midst of intensifying biomedicalization, both on the part of patients and on the part of physicians, and how these differences grow from broader cultural narratives about diabetes in each setting.

About the Author

Mari Armstrong-Hough is a medical sociologist and epidemiologist at the Yale University School of Public Health.
For more information about Mari Armstrong-Hough, visit the Author Page.


“There are few books that delve so deeply into the meanings of an illness, and almost none that provide such a penetrating comparative analysis. A significant and timely study on the global construction of an illness.” —Peter Conrad, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Brandeis University

“Mari Armstrong-Hough’s work is an excellent contribution to the field of medical sociology and carries numerous important practical implications for both medical professionals and policy makers.” —Kosaku Dairokuno, Meiji University