Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Social Lives of Medicines

Social Lives of Medicines


Part of Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology

  • Date Published: January 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521804691

£ 28.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Medicines are the core of treatment in biomedicine, as in many other medical traditions. As material things, they have social as well as pharmacological lives, with people and between people. They are tokens of healing and hope, as well as valuable commodities. Each chapter of this book shows drugs in the hands of particular actors: mothers in Manila, villagers in Burkina Faso, women in the Netherlands, consumers in London, market traders in Cameroon, pharmacists in Mexico, injectionists in Uganda, doctors in Sri Lanka, industrialists in India, and policymakers in Geneva. Each example is used to explore a different problem in the study of medicines, such as social efficacy, experiences of control, skepticism and cultural politics, commodification of health, the attraction of technology and the marketing of images and values. The book shows how anthropologists deal with the sociality of medicines, through their ethnography, their theorizing, and their uses of knowledge.

    • Comparative analysis of case studies from around the world
    • Broad and varied perspective on the different uses and meanings of medicine
    • Of interest and importance to medical anthropologists, social scientists and health professionals
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… [this] recent volume in the Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology series [is an] important contribution to the study of medicines, not only for medical anthropologists, but for anybody who wants to understand what medicines do and how they do what they do … This book does a good job of presenting some of the research that has been done, and makes a persuasive plea for more anthropological and public health attention to this area.' Journal of Biosocial Science

    'It is difficult to do justice to a book that is full of so many different ethnographic studies and details. The plethora of ethnographic material is the book's big strength.' Journal of Social Anthropology

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2003
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521804691
    • length: 212 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.338kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction:
    1. An anthropology of materia medica
    Part II. The Consumers:
    2. Mothers and children: the efficacies of drugs
    3. Villagers and local remedies: the symbolic nature of medicines
    4. Women in distress: medicines for control
    5. Sceptical consumers: doubts about medicines
    Part III. The Providers:
    6. Drug vendors and their market: the commodification of health
    7. Pharmacists as doctors: bridging the sectors of health care
    8. Injectionists: the attraction of technology
    9. Prescribing physicians: medicines as communication
    Part IV. The Strategists:
    10. Manufacturers: scientific claims, commercial aims
    11. Health planners: making and contesting drug policy
    Part V. Conclusion:
    12. Anthropologists and the sociality of medicines.

  • Authors

    Susan Reynolds Whyte, University of Copenhagen
    Susan Reynolds Whyte is Professor at the Institute of Anthropology of the University of Copenhagen.

    Sjaak van der Geest, Universiteit van Amsterdam
    Sjaak van der Geest is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam.

    Anita Hardon, Universiteit van Amsterdam
    Anita Hardon is Professor and Director of the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research at the University of Amsterdam.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.