Cancer in the Community: Class and Medical Authority / Edition 1

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Overview

Focusing on deep conflicts between the medical establishment and the working class, Martha Balshem chronicles a health education project in “Tannerstown,” a pseudonym for a blue-collar neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Balshem conducted anthropological research as a means of exploring the limitations and possibilities of community-based approaches to cancer prevention. . . . [Her] study serves as a useful first step to a multidisciplinary literature on cancer, broadening analyses of this complex disease in much the same way that social science and grassroots perspectives helped inform the transition from gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) to HIV disease.”—American Journal of Preventative Medicine

“One of the finest pieces of urban ethnography to emerge in recent years. . . . By focusing on cancer and a program set up to reduce its incidence, Balshem illuminates the basic struggles of social class, power inequalities, and control of knowledge. Any pharmacist or other health-care professional who works, or may work, with communities that resemble Tannerstown should find this book insightful, informative, and helpful. Similarly, medical social scientists interested in the dynamics of class conflict in urban America will appreciate the profound anthropological analyses of this humane work.”—American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy

“Fascinating and thought-provoking. Showing clearly that the relationship between patients' families and physicians is a class-based phenomenon, Balshem explores community residents' feelings that health education is an outsider's attempt at control. . . . Her book is not only a report of a project but also a guide and a warning to those setting up similar programs.”—Booklist

“[Cancer in the Community] raises questions not often asked by health-care professionals, yet necessary to achieve any success with current national health-care proposals.”—Choice

“Anthropologist Balshem worked as a health educator in a blue-collar white ethnic neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia, a cancer hot spot she calls ‘Tannerstown,’ and she offers some worthwhile reflections on ‘negotiating professional authority.’ Balshem’s interviews . . . clearly show how medical professionals both shy away from environmental factors and act in an authoritarian way toward their working-class patients. She argues that health educators should listen more to community critiques.”—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Anthropologist Balshem worked as a health educator in a blue-collar white ethnic neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia, a cancer hot spot she calls ``Tannerstown,'' and she offers some worthwhile reflections on ``negotiating professional authority.'' While Balshem's colleagues emphasized personal health issues such as smoking and diet, Tannerstowners blamed cancer on environmental factors in their industrial neighborhood. Comparing neighborhood attitudes toward heart disease with those toward cancer, Balshem found less rational and more fatalistic attitudes toward cancer. Coupled with Tannerstowners' longtime suspicion of outsiders, this finding frustrated the educators. In one chapter, she traces the efforts of a Tannerstown widow to change medical records that indicated her husband's death from pancreatic cancer was due solely to his drinking and smoking and not to his environment. Balshem's interviews with the attending doctor clearly show how medical professionals both shy away from environmental factors and act in an authoritarian way toward their working-class patients. She argues that health educators should listen more to community critiques. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560982517
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1993
  • Series: Series in Ethnographic Inquiry
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha Balshem is an anthropologist living in Portland, Oregon.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Defining the Topic 1
2 The Study Community 13
3 Project CAN-DO 55
4 A Cancer Death 91
5 Meaning for the Anthropologist 125
6 Changing the Victim 141
Notes 149
References 157
Index 170
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