Gender and the 'New Paradigm' of Health

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This article provides a critical review of literature on the relationship between gender and the ‘new paradigm’ of health. An overview of the feminist critique of health is given, from the Women's Health Movement of the late 1960s and early feminist debates about medicalisation, to more recent discussions about structural inequalities between men and women, eating disorders, and AIDS. I then go on to explore the feminist response to the so-called ‘new paradigm’ of health (an approach that emphasises health promotion, individual responsibility for health, and body-monitoring). Arguments that health promotion initiatives target women and confirm their position as principal guardians of health within the family are considered, as well as literature on the breast cancer awareness campaign. I then explore the growing body of literature on masculinity and health, and its account of the relationship between gender and current ideas about healthiness. Finally, I offer up some suggestions for the direction a new feminist critique of health might take.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-280
Number of pages13
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • gender
  • health
  • feminism


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