The Medicalisation of Deviance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the ways in which deviation from some social norms and expectations becomes defined and treated as illness, or as a medical phenomenon, requiring intervention and treatment by medical personnel. The medicalisation of deviance is a historical social process, and is the outcome of professional and social-movement activity. It is often contested and not straightforward. The dominance of the medical model in explaining certain types of behaviour or conditions means that the emphasis is on the individual, who must be treated in some way in order to restore conformity or health. The medical model also relies on individuals taking responsibility to follow medical advice. The chapter first outlines the concepts of deviance and social control, and then examines the relationship between medicalisation and social control. It focuses on the role of psychiatry in identifying and regulating deviance, including criminal deviance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecond Opinion
Subtitle of host publicationAn Introduction to Health Sociology
EditorsJohn Germov
Place of PublicationVictoria
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780190306496
ISBN (Print)9780190306489
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • health
  • illness
  • social control
  • medicalisation
  • deviation
  • social norms


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