Despite the many factors that affect our health, the notion of personal responsibility dominates many of our conversations – in the doctor’s office, among friends and online. We are told by many authoritative and influential sources that health is largely a product of one’s individual effort, and therefore, we need to set measurable goals and work actively to achieve them. This approach is sometimes empowering – we can control our health! However, it often overlooks or minimizes the role of external factors, such as social determinants of health, thus placing the burden of responsibility on individuals to simply try harder. In this course, we will consider the benefits of personal responsibility as a framework for understanding our health while reading scholarship in medical rhetoric and sociology that critiques it.
Read: Several short readings will be provided.