The Machinery of Authoritarian Care: Dramatising Breast Cancer Treatment in 1970s Britain

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    Abstract

    This article examines the professional and public response to the television play Through the Night, which aired on BBC1 in December 1975. One of the first British mass media portrayals of a woman'™s experience being treated for breast cancer, this play attracted a large audience and considerable attention from both critics and everyday viewers. My analysis of the play draws on sources documenting expert responses to the play in its production stages, as well as critics'™ and viewers' responses to what the play said about breast cancer treatment in particular, and about Britons'™ experiences of medical institutions more broadly. Together, I argue, these sources help us see how Through the Night's critique of what one expert called '˜the machinery of authoritarian care'™ reverberated with and supported the efforts of professionals anxious to improve patient experience, and how it crystallised the concerns of activists and everyday viewers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)557-576
    Number of pages19
    JournalSocial History of Medicine
    Volume27
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

    Keywords

    • breast cancer
    • patient experience
    • medicine and the media
    • doctor-patient relationships
    • the National Health Service

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