Publication Details

Mason, P. H., Degeling, C. & Denholm, J. (2015). Sociocultural dimensions of tuberculosis: An overview of key concepts. International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 19 (10), 1135-1143.


Biomedical innovations are unlikely to provide effective and ethical tuberculosis (TB) control measures without complementary social science research. However, a strong interest in interdisciplinary work is often undermined by differences in language and concepts specific to each disciplinary approach. Accordingly, biological and social scientists need to learn how to communicate with each other. This article will outline key concepts relating to TB from medical anthropology and health sociology. Distilling these concepts in an introductory framework is intended to make this material accessible to researchers in laboratory, clinical and fieldwork settings, as well as to encourage more social scientists to engage with TB research among target groups critical for successful programmatic interventions. For pedagogical purposes, the relevant concepts are grouped into three categories: 1) structures and settings, which includes overarching themes such as syndemics, local biologies, medicalisation, structu ral violence and surveillance; 2) practices and processes, encompassing gender, stigma, taboo, and victim blaming; and 3) experience and enculturation, which includes illness narratives, biographical disruption and dynamic nominalism. By helping to navigate this literature, we hope to foster more cross-disciplinary conversations between qualitative and quantitative researchers. TB, a quintessential social disease, will be controlled more effectively using a multistranded research approach.



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