The Israeli Medical Association's discourse on health inequity

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The present paper analyses the emergence and characteristics of Israeli Medical Association (IMA) discourse on health inequality in Israel during the years 1977-2010. The IMA addressed the issue of health inequality at a relatively late stage in time (2000), as compared to other OECD countries such as the UK, and did so in a relatively limited way, focusing primarily on professional or economic interests. The dominant discourses on health inequalities within the IMA are biomedical and behavioral, characterized by a focus on medical and/or cultural and behavioral differences, the predominant use of medical terminology, and an individualistic rather than a structural conceptualization of the social characteristics of health differences. Additionally, IMA discourses emphasize certain aspects of health inequality such as the geographical and material inequities, and in doing so overlook the role played by class, nationality and the unequal structure of citizenship. Paradoxically, by disregarding the latter, the IMA's discourse on health inequality has the potential to reinforce the structural causes of these inequities. Our research is based on a textual critical discourse analysis (CDA) of hundreds of documents from the IMA's scientific medical journal, the IMA's members journal and public IMA documents such as press-releases, Knesset protocols, publications, and public surveys. By providing knowledge on the different ways in which the IMA, a key stakeholder in the health field, de-codifies, understands, explains, and attempts to deal with health inequality, the article illuminates possible implications on health policy and seeks to evaluate the direct interventions carried out by the IMA, or by other actors influenced by it, pertaining to health inequality.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)119-126
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Discourse
  • Health inequities
  • Israel
  • Medical ideology
  • Social determinants

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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