A critical study of diabetes in the popular imagination
Over twenty-nine million people in the United States, more than nine percent of the population, have some form of diabetes. In Managing Diabetes, Jeffrey A. Bennett focuses on how the disease is imagined in public culture. Bennett argues that popular anecdotes, media representation, and communal myths are as meaningful as medical and scientific understandings of the disease.
In focusing on the public character of the disease, Bennett looks at health campaigns and promotions as well as the debate over public figures like Sonia Sotomayor and her management of type 1 diabetes. Bennett examines the confusing and contradictory public depictions of diabetes to demonstrate how management of the disease is not only clinical but also cultural. Bennett also has type 1 diabetes and speaks from personal experience about the many misunderstandings and myths that are alive in the popular imagination.
Ultimately, Managing Diabetes offers a fresh take on how disease is understood in contemporary society and the ways that stigma, fatalism, and health can intersect to shape diabetes’s public character. This disease has dire health implications, and rates keep rising. Bennett argues that until it is better understood it cannot be better treated.
Managing Diabetes represents the best that medical humanities has to offer and is relevant to health care professionals, humanities and arts scholars, social scientists, medical educators, and patients. Bennett offers an analysis of a chronic disease that intersects with many socio-cultural practices and beliefs about individualization, governmentality, medicalization, and epidemiology while being attentive to the stratification systems (i.e., race, class, gender) that organize all social life. Given that half the population of the US experiences diabetes, it is conceivable that this disease touches everyones life.
Readers of Jeffrey A. Bennett's Managing Diabetes will find an astute analysis animated by buoyant prose and captivating images that illuminates the lived experience of diabetes by explicating how that experience is mediatedand, in many ways, made indecipherableby bio-politically articulated public discourses. Bennett wisely focuses his gaze beyond the clinic toward 'management' rhetoric as it circulates across mainstream contexts, and the result is an invigorating intervention lighting the way forward for critical health communication scholarship.