Stigma and Social Exclusion in Healthcare

Edited by Tom Mason, Caroline Carlisle,
Caroline Watkins and Elizabeth Whitehead.
Taylor and Francis
ISBN 0 415 22200 1

Four editors and 27 chapters inevitably pose
problems of coherence, even with such a wide-ranging subject.
Ingeniously, the editors take responsibility for the theoretical
underpinning of the topic and then include a variety of studies
under the generic heads of difference and deviance. This lets them
cover subjects as diverse as HIV/Aids, burns and hearing loss under
difference; and drug use, mentally disordered offenders and
homelessness under deviance.

As with many multi-authored books, this varies
greatly in approach and quality. Some chapters are very slight, but
overall there are valuable insights into the nature of stigma.

Boldly, the authors end with a manifesto. They
note the “disabling” nature of much professional practice, the
increasing tendency to blame the marginalised for not helping
themselves, and the gap between theory and practice. The model for
change presented argues for greater awareness, changes in the core
curriculum for professional education, and advocacy work to raise
awareness of others.

While written from a nursing perspective, the
book has much of value for other disciplines.

Terry Bamford is chairperson,
Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust, and a member of the
General Social Care Council.

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