Women's Health and Social Change
Routledge – 2009 – 184 pages
Shortlisted for the BSA Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize 2009
Traditional distinctions between the experiences of women and men are breaking down and being reconfigured in new, more complex ways. The long-established life expectancy gap between men and women appears to be closing in many affluent societies. Many men appear to be far more ‘body and health conscious’ than they ever were in the past and there are perceptible changes in women’s ‘health behaviours’, such as increases in cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption.
Ellen Annandale provides a comprehensive and persuasive analysis of the contemporary social relations of gender and women’s health, arguing that the once all important sex/gender distinction fosters an undue separation between the social and the biological whereas it is their interaction and flexibility that is important in the production of health and illness. New theoretical tools are needed in a world where the meaning and lived experience of biological sex and of social gender, as well as the connections between them, are far more fluid. This book takes a step forward, outlining what an adequate feminist analysis of women’s health might look like.
Women’s Health and Social Change will be of interest to academics and students working in sociology, women’s studies, gender studies, social medicine, social policy, nursing and midwifery.
"…include(s) nuanced and thought-provoking investigations of the body-versus-body-politic debate, the glorification of natural childbirth by 1970s-era radical feminists, the limitations of gender difference research, the deleterious impact of late capitalism on biomedicine, the pitfalls of postfeminism and the "body project," amd the weakening of health-oriented women's activism caused by identity politics and extreme individualism."
-- Choice, July 2009
'' Ellen Annandale’s book on women’s health and social change is a landmark text'' ''A beautifully written book, with flowing prose and some nice pieces of visual imagery that help bring the arguments expressed to life. Each of the seven chapters is well crafted as both a standalone piece of writing and as a building block for the book as a whole. The key points made and the arguments advanced in each chapter are well drawn out and summarised.'' ''This book will be equally rewarding for both those new to the area of gender and health, and those who have worked in it for some time. It represents both an excellent overview of work in this area and insightful analysis that contributes to long-running debates and suggests potentially fruitful directions for new work.''
-- Sociology of Health & Illness, 2010
Introduction 1. Recovering gender and health in history 2. Making connections: feminism, sociology and health 3. Two traditions of research on gender and health 4. Women, health and reproduction 5. Moving beyond sex and gender 6. Morbidity and mortality in transition 7. The making of women’s health: diversity and difference 8. Concluding remarks and ways forward
Ellen Annandale is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leicester, UK.