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Cultural histories of the National Health Service in Britain
Editors: and

The National Health Service (NHS) officially ‘opened’ across Britain in 1948. It replaced a patchy system of charity and local providers, and made healthcare free at the point of use. Over the subsequent decades, the NHS was vested with cultural meaning, and even love. By 1992, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson declared that the service was ‘the closest thing the English have to a religion’. Yet in 2016, a physician publishing in the British Medical Journal asked whether the service was, in fact, a ‘national religion or national football’, referring to the complex politics of healthcare. Placards, posters, and prescriptions radically illuminates the multiple meanings of the NHS, in public life and culture, over its seventy years of life. The book charts how this institution has been ignored, worshipped, challenged, and seen as under threat throughout its history. It analyses changing cultural representations and patterns of public behaviour that have emerged, and the politics and everyday life of health. By looking at the NHS through the lenses of labour, activism, consumerism, space, and representation, this collection showcases the depth and potential of cultural history. This approach can explain how and why the NHS has become the defining institution of contemporary Britain.

The case of R337h in Brazil
Sahra Gibbon

the same time that it is conjoined to research exploring the viability of ‘rare genetic disease’ to account for and sustain research into ‘missing heritability’. The aggregation and disaggregation of similarities and differences with the Li-Fraumeni syndrome that is unfolding around R337h, far from destabilizing, in fact becomes a vector through which specificity can be highlighted and used to mobilise research and potentially, as the account outlined above suggests, also nurture nascent patient activism. In this sense the case of R337h in Brazil illuminates the

in Global health and the new world order
Open Access (free)
Graeme Kirkpatrick

with a different technical reality. As we will see in the next chapter, this second layer of technology transformation involves an infusion of meaning and value into technical practices. For Feenberg, the second layer is essential to critique because it is the realisation of human potential for a more meaningful world-relation that connects up the multiple real-world instances of technical politics, from computer hacking to patient activism. These activities are unified through the idea of released potential. Once technology has been opened up to democratic

in Technical politics
Abstract only
Claire L. Jones

Jean Baudrillard’s influential sociological work on the structures of consumption makes us reconsider whether any type of consumer has ever had free choice over the commodities they consume.17 The historical medical control over impairment is also, of course, in no small part responsible for the subsequent rise of disability activism and of patient-​activism groups more broadly. By uncovering more about the medical practitioners who defined and aimed to shape disability through prosthetic commodities, the empirically grounded chapters make the case for a scholarly

in Rethinking modern prostheses in Anglo-American commodity cultures, 1820–1939
The International Socialists and life in a Coventry car factory, 1968–75
Jack Saunders

relations’ officer’s preferred time. Worth was dismissed for being uncooperative and management, likely motivated by awareness of his (well-known) politics, compiled a twenty-two-page dossier outlining Worth’s various crimes, dominated by accounts of case work he’d done for fellow workers and management impositions to which he had organised opposition.55 Within the workshop this kind of patient activism had helped build a genuine rapport with his workgroup, and the response to the sacking was rapid. His section walked out and within an hour had spread their protest to

in Waiting for the revolution
Exploring assumptions around patient involvement in animal research
Gail Davies
Richard Gorman
, and
Gabrielle King

relevance and quality of research using the experiential knowledge they develop through living with a health condition. 8 Research involvement started with patient activism around clinical trials, where direct links were made between involving people in research and improving the relevance of research. Sociologist Steven Epstein tracked the work of AIDS activists and organisations in the 1980s ‘who challenged researchers’ approaches to conducting trials, which had overlooked patients’ preferred outcomes’. 9

in Researching animal research
Open Access (free)
Digital culture and personalised medicine
Anne Kerr
Choon Key Chekar
Emily Ross
Julia Swallow
, and
Sarah Cunningham-Burley

with science and business on profile raising and fundraising. These activities are amplified and monetised by traditional and digital media which ‘align with a consumer-driven model of digital patient activism’ (Petersen et al. 2019 : 489). Facebook and other social media platforms such as Instagram are where patients become involved in what Gerlitz and Helmond have called the ‘like economy’, where ‘like buttons enable multiple data flows between various actors, contributing to a simultaneous de- and re-centralisation of the web’ (Gerlitz and Helmond 2013: 1248

in Personalised cancer medicine
Abstract only
Searching for the patient
Anne Hanley
Jessica Meyer

ideas and interventions that were efficacious or expedient. It is only in recent decades that medical mistakes and malpractice – and their impact on the experiences of sick persons – have become the focus of historical study. 13 Increased access to medical treatment also led to greater demands for patient involvement in the provision of care. 14 Although historians see the post-war growth of patient activism and the emergence of

in Patient voices in Britain, 1840–1948