“The social construction of our interpretations” (Paul Farmer)

Dr. Paul Farmer reflects on the importance of anthropology in health care, in a recent Harvard Gazette interview:

“…Q: How important to your career is the blend of medicine and anthropology?

It was and is very important. … each year, as time goes by, I think, Wow, any insights I might have are related to my training in anthropology.

Q: The social determinants of health — ?

A: But also the social construction of our interpretations. Understanding social determinants — anybody can do that and everyone should. …The social construction of epidemics and the lived experience of sickness are very different.

Social construction of the way we interpret these determinants means knowing that our views on illness, well-being, sickness, death, suffering, pain, equity, fairness, and justice are all socially constructed and therefore amenable to change. None of it is God-given. Understanding that — that’s really anthropology.”

Read the full interview

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