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Not TonightMigraine and the Politics of Gender and Health$
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Joanna Kempner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226179018

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226179292.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Not Tonight

Joanna Kempner

University of Chicago Press

Migraine is prevalent, disabling, and costly, yet it receives little attention from physicians, employers and policymakers. People who have migraine (three quarters of whom are women) report that their symptoms significantly disrupt their lives, but that family members, friends, and colleagues often fail to take them seriously. This remains true, even though migraine is currently understood to be a neurobiological disorder. Migraine, a contested illness, thus becomes an important vantage point from which to examine the sociological concept of “legitimacy.” In this chapter, I argue that legitimacy is a process that reflects social relations, not a status that is merely present or absent. Legitimacy has three dimensions: epistemological (how we know if a disease is real); moral (whether people with a diagnosis deserve help); and institutional (the attention and resources allocated to disease).

Keywords:   migraine, pain, legitimacy, gender, contested illness, moral character, medicalization, neuroscience

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