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Neither a sinner nor a saint: Health as a present-day religion in the age of healthism
Karolinska Institute, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Clinical Sciences. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Center of Paediatrics and Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Linköping.
2016 (English)In: Social Theory & Health, ISSN 1477-8211, E-ISSN 1477-822X, Vol. 14, no 1, 129-148 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

In Western societies, religious imagery is often used in conjunction with the topic health in this biomedicalized, healthistic time, but is that enough to qualify the structural characteristics of the presentations and practices of health as a present-day health religion? And what may be gained by adopting such a perspective? This article explores these questions by a hermeneutical rereading, using a comprehensive list of 10 religious features derived from the sociology of religion on texts describing (a) religiously charged health phenomena, (b) the interconnection between health and society and (c) health theories. The results show that health can rightfully be called a religion, with characteristics resembling Webets protestant work ethic, which may accelerate the formation of a new economic and health-related underclass. Viewing health from a religious angle has the potential of introducing new concepts and ideas of religious origin into the sphere of health. We believe that this introduction will facilitate and inspire new ways of thinking about health which add a religious edge to the seeming rationality of health, that is, an emotionalized commitment to health as a dignified authority, which an understanding of health as a moral obligation hardly captures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
PALGRAVE MACMILLAN LTD , 2016. Vol. 14, no 1, 129-148 p.
Keyword [en]
representations of health; religion; power; healthism; commitment
National Category
Clinical Medicine
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-125309DOI: 10.1057/sth.2015.21ISI: 000368960800007OAI: diva2:906360
Available from: 2016-02-24 Created: 2016-02-19 Last updated: 2016-02-24

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Wijma, Barbro
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Division of Clinical SciencesFaculty of Medicine and Health SciencesDepartment of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Linköping
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