Admittedly, the current landscape of the social history of medicine project looks very different from that of the 1970s and 1980s, a period when there was no firm separation between the intellectual and the political, when contemporary political concern with health inequalities was reflected in an egalitarian social approach to the medical past.3 Cooter was perhaps also correct to lament the relative lack of methods or theory in medical history, often celebrated by its practitioners as a positive intellectual pluralism. And his scepticism about the constant borrowing from sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists and scholars of gender, cultural studies and subaltern studies was perhaps not entirely unfounded. Nonetheless, I would profoundly disagree that the discipline is politically and intellectually sterile, to borrow Cooters phraseology. This book has attempted to synthesise a rather vast amount of literature to produce a concise, accessible overview of the basic themes, methodologies and theories that have underpinned medical history research over the past few decades. It proposes no overarching theoretical framework; it contains no all-embracing methodological approach; its thematic structure favours no key intellectual thinkers.
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