Healthcare choice: Discourses, perceptions, experiences and practices

Jonathan Gabe, Kirsten Harley, Michael Calnan

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Policy discourse shaped by neoliberal ideology with its emphasis on marketisation and competition has highlighted the importance of choice in the context of healthcare and health systems globally. Yet, evidence about how so-called consumers perceive and experience healthcare choice is in short supply and limited to specific healthcare systems, primarily in the Global North. This special issue aims to explore how choice is perceived and utilised in the context of different systems of healthcare throughout the world, where choice, at least in policy and organisational terms, has been embedded for some time. The articles are divided into those emphasising: embodiment and the meaning of choice; social processes associated with choice; the uncertainties, risks and trust involved in making choices; and issues of access and inequality associated with
enacting choice. These sociological studies reveal complexities not always captured in policy discourse and suggest that the commodification of healthcare is particularly problematic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-635
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number5
Early online date13 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • Choice
  • healthcare choice
  • health policy
  • health systems
  • neoliberalism

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