A sociological view on the epistemic privilege of biomedicine

deconstructing the metanarrative

  • Cláudia Nogueira Universidade de Coimbra. Centro de Estudos Sociais
Keywords: Biomedicine, Metanarrative, Hegemonic Power, Sociological Deconstruction, Ecology of Knowledges


Despite the growing public recognition of its incompleteness and its need to make it dialog with other knowledges, biomedicine continues to figure as a metanarrative, as an epistemologically superior medical model, defining and regulating what is meant by “medical knowledge”. One of the great obstacles – if not the greatest – to the creation of an effective ecology of knowledges in the field of health care lies in the persistence of this representation of superiority. Based on a review of the literature about the subject, this article aims precisely at deconstructing the essentialist version of biomedicine’s superiority, showing how this supposed superiority results,in fact,froma complex sociocultural framework of historical production. In this sense, revisiting the existing literature, the article develops a condensed perspective around the main pillars of the construction of the hegemonic power of biomedicine in the context of Western modernity:(1)theumbilicalconnectionofbiomedicine tomodern science and its colonization trajectory; (2) theanatomical-clinicalprocessandhowbiomedicine established itself, through this process, as a normative/regulatory power, gaining legitimacy and protection by the States; (3) the alleged greater effectiveness of biomedicine in the context of its greater compatibility with the new capitalist imperatives; and (4) the constitution of a strong biomedical professional movement and its closing strategies in the construction ofits hegemony.


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How to Cite
Nogueira, C. (2019). A sociological view on the epistemic privilege of biomedicine. Saúde E Sociedade, 27(4), 1019-1032. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0104-12902018180590