Sociologists of health and illness have tended to overlook the architecture and buildings used in health care. This contrasts with medical geographers who have yielded a body of work on the significance of places and spaces in the experience of health and illness. A review of sociological studies of the role of the built environment in the performance of medical practice uncovers an important vein of work, worthy of further study. Through the historically situated example of hospital architecture, this article seeks to tease out substantive and methodological issues that can inform a distinctive sociology of healthcare architecture. Contemporary healthcare buildings manifest design models developed for hotels, shopping malls and homes. These design features are congruent with neoliberal forms of subjectivity in which patients are constituted as consumers and responsibilised citizens. We conclude that an adequate sociology of healthcare architecture necessitates an appreciation of both the construction and experience of buildings, exploring the briefs and plans of their designers, and observing their everyday uses. Combining approaches and methods from the sociology of health and illness and science and technology studies offers potential for a novel research agenda that takes healthcare buildings as its substantive focus.
- architecture;place;healthcare buildings;hospital design
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)