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Picture of Disease, Class and Social Change

Disease, Class and Social Change

Tuberculosis in Folkestone and Sandgate, 1880-1930

Author(s): Marc Arnold

Book Description

This previously unexamined history of open-air treatment in English coastal resorts demonstrates how contrasting meanings were assigned to tuberculosis along lines of class. It assesses the shifting inter-relation of medical, political and social forces in determining responses to this devastating disease, and analyses the relationship between scientific ideas, in particular social evolution and germ theory, and attitudes to poverty and chronic disease.

In Folkestone and Sandgate these conflicting perceptions of the disease were highlighted in a clash of interests between reformist public health officials in overcrowded London Boroughs and a provincial plutocracy with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in an elite health resort. This local controversy precipitated calls for state treatment of the disease and throws light on the ways in which doctors, politicians and academics have tended to frame the issue of tuberculosis according to their own political perspectives and values. Medical approaches to tuberculosis varied between viewing it as a disease of poverty that could most efficiently be eradicated through addressing problems of poor housing and overcrowding to a focus on the isolation and sterilisation of those deemed to possess an hereditary taint. Conflicts between an infection model of the disease and a focus on social reform still characterise approaches to tuberculosis treatment today.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-3967-9
ISBN-10: 1-4438-3967-1
Date of Publication: 01/07/2012
Pages / Size: 335 / A5
Price: £44.99


Marc Arnold recently obtained a doctorate from Canterbury Christ Church University. His interests include the impact of scientific thought on contemporary culture, the medicalisation of aberrant behaviour and the relationship between diet and health.