Lia LOMBARDI : « Society, Cultures and Gender Differences. Migratory paths and states of health »

Franco Angeli Editions, Milan, Italy, 2005

Lia Lombardi is a Lecturer in Sociology of Medicine at the University of Milan and in Social Policy at the University of Padua. For many years she has carried out research on health and reproductive health from a gender and cultural perspective, with a focus on migratory processes. Among her publications : Maternità in laboratorio (Turin, 1992). Madre Provetta (Milan, 1994) and Corpo medico e corpo femminile (Milan, 1999) with Franca Pizzini.

Studies and research on the relationship between women, health and medicine have highlighted the construction and social control of women’s bodies, through the process of medicalization which, since the XVIII century has first been concerned with delivery and birth, and more recently with the whole reproductive process (contraception, abortion, assisted procreation and menopause).
With this in mind, in a gender perspective and through comparisons between different countries and cultures, the book explains the relationship between gender differences and inequalities, states of health and cultural models, focussing on reproductive health as an indicator of well-being and social development : an indicator that reveals social conditions, cultures of origin and processes of transition and adjustment.
One of the questions in a gender perspective and which recurrently comes up in the book is : can we today affirm that the social control over women’s bodies is a thing of the past in our history and a thing of the present in other countries ? Are we, Western women, informed, free to choose and free from any kind of social constraint ?
Answers to these questions emerge from feminist thought and from gender studies : from the comparison between the excess of medicalization in Western countries and the shortage of basic care in the so-called non-industrialised countries ; from the analysis of women’s migratory processes in the era of globalization, with their burden of old and new inequalities and of old and new health problems.
Health is indeed a key element in the analysis of individual life paths, in the acknowledgement of citizenship rights and in the understanding of the system of both social and gender inequalities.


Introduction (Sex, sexuality and gender ; Gender, health and inequalities ; Migration, health and gender inequalities) – Society and gender differences (The social construction of gender ; The institutional basis of gender ; Gender theories ; The Italian experience) – Health and gender differences (Social and cultural interpretations of health and illness ; Female gender and health ; Health and inequalities ; Reproductive health in the world ; Reproductive health on the Mediterranean shores. – Migration, culture, health and gender (Gender and culture differences ; Reproductive health of migrant women ; « Good practices » in family advice bureaus ; Migration and Health) – Bibliography

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