Socio-Cultural Aspects

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Breast Cancer: Society Shapes an Epidemic by Anne S. Kasper and Susan J. Ferguson, Editors (Palgrave McMillan, 2002) – This collection of articles considers how breast cancer came to be a social problem. It looks at how economics, politics, gender, social class, and race-ethnicity have influenced the science behind research, spurred the growth of a breast cancer industry, generated media portrayals of women with the disease, and defined and influenced women’s experiences with breast cancer. The contributors address the social construction of breast cancer as an illness and as an area of scientific controversy, advocacy, and public policy. Chapters on the history of breast cancer, the health care system, the environment, and the marketing of breast cancer, among others, tease apart the complex social forces that have shaped our collective and individual responses to breast cancer. Breast–Cancer–Social–Aspects

Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Harming America by Barbara Ehrenreich (Picador, 2010) –Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the false promises of positive thinking and shows its reach into every corner of American life, from Evangelical megachurches to the medical establishment, and to the business community, where the refusal to consider negative outcomes–like mortgage defaults–contributed directly to economic disaster. Ehrenreich exposes the downside of positive thinking: personal self-blame and national denial–poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage. Chapter 1 focuses on how positive thinking has become a mandate for someone diagnosed with cancer and critiques the assumption that optimism is an opportunity for personal growth and a way to afford survival benefits to the diagnosed. Breast–Cancer–Social–Aspects

Cancer Butch (PDF)  by S. Lochlann Jain (Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 22, Iss. 4, pp. 501-538, 2007) – In this scholarly article, Lochlann Jain presents a queer analysis of the ways gender is constituted and inhabited in relation to industrial capitalism and the distribution of suffering. She theorizes the nexus of shame, illness, and sexuality and disentangles the alliances between breasts and gender and how they have been marked and framed through various modes of beauty, shock, and shame. In addition to allowing space for queer identities (and acknowledgement of the fact that lesbians may be the most undertreated group in the United States), Jain recognizes the basic human costs of U.S.-style capitalism and its uses of suffering, illness and death in the context of profit. Breast–Cancer–Social–Aspects

Cicatrius_(in)visibles.smallCicatrius (in)visibles (The Invisible Scars), a new book edited by Breast Cancer Consortium partner Ana Porroche-Escudero, Gerard Coll-Planas, and Caterina Riba will published this March (2016) by Capsa de Pandora. The book, translated into in Catalan, demystifies the dominant discourses of pink ribbon culture, analyzes androcentric, political, and economic biases in breast cancer biomedicine, and explores embodied resistance to socially constructed body rules and conventions about breast cancer.

Contributors: Begoña Arrieta, Mary Bryson, Grazia de Michele*, Mari Luz Esteban, Beatriz Figueroa, Gerard Coll-Planas, Victoria Fernández, Teresa Forcades i Vila, Jacqueline Gahagan, Cinzia Greco*, Tae Hart, Ainhoa Irueta, Caro Novella, Júlia Ojuel, Marisa Paituví, Ana Porroche-Escudero*, Geneviève Rail, Caterina Riba, Janice Ristock, Dorothy Roberts, Gayle Sulik*, Carme Valls-Llobet. *Partners of the Breast Cancer Consortium. Breast–Cancer–Social–Aspects

Smith COVER CropCultural Encyclopedia of the Breast Edited by Merril D. Smith (Roman & Littlefield, 2014) — Breasts have been a source of obsession throughout human history, symbolizing nourishment and sexuality, fashion and creativity, even fear of disease. Since the end of the nineteenth century, women’s breasts were used “to sell products of all sorts.” Images of unrealistically flourishing breasts encouraged women to resort to surgeries and other measures to conform to apparent standards. Advancements in biomedicine also opened new opportunities to transform breasts. These topics and others fill the pages of this new volume, a first of its kind, in which a team of international scholars from various disciplines provides key insights and information about the breast in art, history, fashion, social movements, medicine, sexuality, and more. It is a timely and necessary contribution to studies of this renowned body part and its cultural significance and includes entries by BCC’s Gayle Sulik and Amber Deane. Breast–Cancer–Social–Aspects Read BCC Review »

2013-10-14-MBCalliancelogo-thumbMalignant: How Cancer Becomes Us by S. Lochlann Jain (UC Press, 2013) – Nearly half of all Americans will be diagnosed with invasive cancer—an all-too ordinary aspect of daily life. Through cultural analysis and memoir, Malignant explores why cancer remains confounding, despite billions of dollars spent in the search for a cure. Amidst debates over causes and treatments, scientists generate reams of data—information that obscures as much as it clarifies. Jain unscrambles the high stakes of the confusion and explains how a national culture that simultaneously aims to deny, profit from, and cure cancer entraps us in a state of paradox—one that makes the world of cancer virtually impossible to navigate for doctors, patients, caretakers, and policy makers. A lucid guide to understanding and navigating the uncertainty at the heart of cancer, Malignant shifts the terms of an epic battle we have been losing for decades. Breast–Cancer–Social–Aspects

Patient No More: The Politics of Breast Cancer by Sharon Batt (Spinifex Press, 1994) — Journalist Sharon Batt was a healthy athletic woman when she found a lump in her breast, and after the diagnosis she set out to understand her disease. It led her on a journey to unravelling the politics of medical research, of media and fundraisers who play the breast cancer ‘game’. This is one of the early comprehensive carefully researched and passionately written critiques on the politics of breast cancer. The National Women’s Health Network said this book is, “Feminist journalism at its best – an extraordinary amount of medical, historical, and personal material in a style that is as gripping as a novel … a brilliant analysis.” A classic text, Patient No More shows how the seeds of the breast cancer industry we see today were planted decades ago.  Cancer–Political Aspects

Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health by Gayle Sulik (Oxford University Press, 2011, 2012) – Breast Cancer Consortium founder Gayle Sulik reveals the hidden costs of the pink ribbon as an industry, one in which breast cancer functions as a brand name with a pink ribbon logo. Based on historical and ethnographic research, analysis of awareness campaigns and advertisements, and hundreds of interviews, Pink Ribbon Blues shows that while millions walk, run, and purchase products for a cure, cancer rates rise, industry thrives, and breast cancer is stigmatized anew for those who reject the pink ribbon model. Even as Sulik points out the flaws of “pink ribbon culture,” she outlines the positives and offers alternatives. The paperback edition (2012) includes a new Introduction investigating Susan G. Komen for the Cure and a color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer. Breast–Cancer–Social Aspects–Activism

Taking Charge of Breast Cancer by Julia Ericksen (University of California Press, 2008) – Showcasing diverse voices and experiences, this book illuminates an all-too-common experience by exploring how women respond to breast cancer diagnosis. Drawing from interviews in which women describe their journeys from diagnosis through treatment and recovery, sociologist Julia Ericksen, herself a breast cancer survivor, explores women’s trust in their doctors, feelings about appearance and sexuality, and views about traditional and nontraditional medicine. What emerges is a picture of how cultural messages about breast cancer shape women’s ideas about the illness, impact relationships, and lead some to become activists. The book reveals how we narrate our illnesses and how these narratives shape the paths we travel once diagnosed. Breast–Cancer–Social Aspects

The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer: Changing Cultures of Disease and Activism by Maren Klawiter (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) – Maren Klawiter analyzes the breast cancer movement to show the broad social impact of how diseases come to be medically managed and publicly administered. Examining surgical procedures, early detection campaigns, and discourses of risk, Klawiter demonstrates that these practices initially inhibited, but later enabled, collective action. The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer ultimately challenges our understanding of the origins, politics, and future of the breast cancer movement. Opens a window to broader changes transforming medically advanced societies and challenges our understanding of the origins, politics, and future of the breast cancer movement. Breast–Cancer–Activism–Political Aspects

The Paradox of Hope: Journeys Through a Clinical Borderland by Cheryl Mattingly (University of California Press, 2010) – This book is not about breast cancer but may be of interest to those exploring the discourse of hope. Grounded in intimate moments of family life in and out of hospitals, this book explores the hope that inspires us to try to create lives worth living, even when no cure is in sight. The Paradox of Hope focuses on a group of African American families in a multicultural urban environment, many of them poor and all of them with children diagnosed with serious chronic medical conditions. Mattingly depicts the multicultural urban hospital as a border zone where race, class, and chronic disease intersect. This innovative ethnographic study illuminates communities of care that span clinic and family, and shows how hope is created as an everyday reality amid trying circumstances. Chronic–Illness–Social Aspects Read BCC Review »

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