The recent trend toward health care consumerism is largely the product of market practices, which have instilled the notion of health care as a product to be purchased by informed, empowered consumers, rather than a service bestowed upon a patient by a paternalistic provider. In recent years, health care consumerism has been facilitated by direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of pharmaceutical products. In this paper, we use the case of DTCA for antidepressant medications to examine medicalization techniques used to promote consumerism and establish and expand the antidepressant market. We used content analysis of DTCA from the 1997-2006 issues of a broad sample of women's, men's, and common readership magazines to identify techniques of medicalization, and we analyzed in-depth interviews with magazine readers and antidepressant users to examine how such messages are received. Findings are presented within a framework of economic sociology, which allowed us to unveil the links between emotions and social action that undergird responses to medicalization techniques and consumption of advertised products.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science