Chapter 24 Sociology of health law
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What is ‘sociology of health law’? Is it a new subfield of legal and sociological inquiry, if its existence has not been yet acknowledged in academic literature? Or is it simply an existing field of socio-legal research? This chapter aims to define the subject, scope and potential influence of the sociology of health law as one of the most interesting and innovative spheres of academic inquiry today. It demonstrates that, despite the lack of express recognition, socio-legal studies of health law have already made an important contribution to the understanding of the impact of health law on society. These studies tend to conceptualise health law as a mechanism of social control and oppression and – more or less consciously – ignore the impact of general sociological theories on the way in which health law can be viewed and evaluated. This chapter attempts to demonstrate that insights derived from some of these theories may shed a new light on the developments of health law. It proposed the concept of visibilisation an analytical tool to view the development of health law as a slow process of inclusion of new subjects into the ever-expanding realm of legality. This concept utilises insights from the socio-legal studies of health law and the general sociological theories of law offering a more accurate description of the development of health law over centuries.

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