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The health society: the need for a theory
  1. Ilona Kickbusch
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Ilona Kickbusch
 Tiefental Postfach 434 Brienz BE, Switzerland, CH3855; kickbusch{at}

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While many public health experts maintain that theory is not particularly important to their business they of course usually have one, implicit as it may be. Or at least they have an ideology. When I started to become involved in public health the leading theoretical framework was by Michel Foucault.1 He showed how society was subject to a process of medicalisation and described the extent to which the medical eye exerted ever more control over matters of everyday life. Much of the critical debate around health promotion and lifestyles reflects this approach.

But as we look around us we see an inflation of health and wellness that does not quite …

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