Understanding Ulcers: Medical Knowledge, Social Constructionism, and Helicobacter Pylori

13 September 2006

The study of historical change in the content of medical knowledge in regard to specific illnesses or diseases provides sociologists with the opportunity to investigate both social processes and social theory. In this study of medical knowledge, propositions from the social constructionist school of sociology are utilised to highlight the way new knowledge about ulcers is generated, and to identify the cultural and social factors which inhibit the dissemination of new knowledge. The paper then explores recent challenges to this school of thought, using the case study of ulcers to suggest that there are limits to social constructionism and its capacity to explain change in medical knowledge and practice.