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 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 patientactivism. In this sense the case of R337h in Brazil illuminates the
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 patientactivism. These activities are unified through the idea of released potential. Once technology has been opened up to democratic
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
The International Socialists and life in a Coventry car factory, 1968–75
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 patientactivism 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
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.
Increased access to medical treatment also led to greater demands for patient involvement in the provision of care.
Although historians see the post-war growth of patientactivism and the emergence of
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 patientactivism’ (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