9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Public Health, Health Promotion and Risk II Building I, 1E4

Lay knowledge about Malaria in Mozambique

The discussion on Lay knowledge in health has assumed an increasingly important place not only in sociology, but within social sciences in general. Despite the global recognition of the importance of the lay referral system as an analytical category, it is possible to identify two different approaches regarding to the conception and the status given to lay knowledge. One establishes the division between of lay and expert spheres, reducing the first one to the category of beliefs or "traditional" knowledge. The other tends to focus on the relationship between both spheres, aiming to uncover the structure of power that submit the rationalities and types of knowledge that are of a different nature.
The lay knowledge is acquired, perceived, interpreted, and applied in different ways. The appropriation of knowledge, which was until recently exclusive of expert systems, its construction and legitimacy through the various sources of information, introduce changes in the meanings and uses of various therapeutic resources, and in the relationship between doctors and patients.
The ongoing research claims to discuss the status conferred on lay knowledge in health. The research was supported by semi-direct interviews to mothers with children five or less years old, held in the city of Chókwè, Province of Gaza, Mozambique. These interviews were focused on the lay knowledge and practices concerning to Malária. It was possible to see how the interviewees discourses, as well as their perceptions regarding Malaria and other frequent diseases in the region, are shaped by experiences and through different sources. These discourses and practices are forms and types of knowledge, not reducible to beliefs, that result from a reflective appropriation of expert referrals, as well as from the mobilization and management of various resources of knowledge, which are articulated with their individual and socially shared experience.
Thus, the recognition of the coexistence of a variety of forms of knowledge makes it possible to study health and disease issues in a comprehensive and holistic way, aiming to contribute towards a better understanding of their patterns in the contemporary societies.