Publication Details

Harwood, V. & McMahon, S. (2014). Medicalization in schools. In L. Florian (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Special Education (pp. 915-930). Los Angeles: SAGE.


Medicalization can be characterized as the product of processes that seek to put social problems into a medical framework This process of placing phenomena into a medical framework has become more commonplace (Conrad, 2007, p. 88; Conrad & Schneider, 1992; Zola, 1972) with the concept being examined in relation to a number of areas, including: sex (Hansen, 1992); ADHD (Conrad, 1975); racialization (Kew, 2009); sleep (Kroker, 2007; Seale, Boden, Williams, Lowe, & Steinberg, 2007); pregnancy and birth (Arney, 1982; Walzer Leavitt, 1986); shyness (Lane, 2007); menopause (Bell, 1987); and psychiatry (Lunbeck, 1994). There are a number of disciplines and perspectives on medicalization, including sociology of health, critical psychology, critical psychiatry, history and philosophy of medicine, medical anthropology, and the sociology of medicine. In education, the issue of medicalization has been examined in terms of a number of considerations, such as inclusion (Isaksson, Lindqvist, & Bergstrom, 2010) and refugee students (Taylor & Kaur Sidhu, 2012).