Animals, veterinarians and the sociology of diagnosis
journal contributionposted on 01.09.2020, 01:34 by P Hobson-West, Annemarie Jutel
© 2019 The Authors. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL. While sociologists of medicine have focused their efforts on understanding human health, illness, and medicine, veterinary medical practice has not yet caught their attention in any sustained way. In this critical review article, we use insights from the sociology of diagnosis literature to explore veterinary practice, and aim to demonstrate the importance of animals to sociological understandings of health, illness and disease. As in human medicine, our analysis shows the importance of diagnosis in creating and maintaining the power and authority of the veterinary professional. However, we then explore how diagnosis operates as a kind of dance, where professional authority can be challenged, particularly in light of the complex ethical responsibilities and clinical interactions that result from the triad of professional/owner/animal patient. Finally, we consider diagnosis via the precept of entanglement, and raise the intriguing possibility of interspecies health relations, whereby decision-making in human health care may be influenced by experiences in animal health care and vice-versa. In our conclusion, we argue that this analysis provides opportunities to scholars researching diagnosis in human health care, particularly around the impact of commercial drivers; has implications for veterinary and public health practitioners; and should help animate the emerging sociology of veterinary medicine.