The Making of a Medical Disorder: Tracing the Emergence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Alberta



Irene Shankar

Social Work in Public Health

November 6, 2014



This article examines the processes through which health disorders become accepted as a public health concern, and the defining role played by social actors responsible for bringing such disorders to public attention. Such analysis provides us with a particular history of health disorders and the implications of this early history in the current conceptualization of such disorders within contemporary health programs and policies. This article traces the emergence and acceptance of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) as a public health concern in Alberta and the ongoing tensions resulting from this early history. Specifically, the author examines the integral role of social workers and various government officials in getting FASD recognized as a health concern. This Alberta case study demonstrates the importance of investigating the sociopolitical context in which health disorders emerge and become accepted.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee