Dr. Miwako Hosoda, Vice-President of Seisa University, has been doing her sociological research by observing human relations in the healthcare field. She is particularly interested in the coordination of people who are coping with medical health issues, healthcare policy and public participation. She graduated from the Department of Sociology, University of Tokyo, in 1992, and received an MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of Tokyo. After working as a research fellow for The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, she studied at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Harvard School of Public Health.Then, she joined Seisa University from 2012.
Healthcare reform that responds to the problems of medical services and systems is the most urgent challenge for every country. The American society faces heated debate regarding healthcare reform such as implementation of a universal health insurance, health disparities among race/ethnicity and income, and human right of people with disabilities. There are also many healthcare problems in Japan. Continuance of the national healthcare insurance has become doubtful, “medical crisis (or collapse)” emerged, and illness-related stigma and discrimination has been a serious problem for a long time. While many people and agencies like the government, associations of healthcare professionals and lawyers have worked to solve the problems, the collective action of people with illnesses and disabilities and their family is just as important. The aim of this study is to conduct an empirical investigation of people’s activities on health issues, from the aspects of the ways of work and the achievements and the problems to be overcome, using Health Social Movements (HSMs) perspective. While there have been specific case studies, there has been limited studies examining the total picture of people’s movements around health. In this study, I will address the processes, results, problems, and relationship between professionals of people’s movement on heath issues using multiple data sources. Firstly, the previous studies focusing on the people’s movements on health issues will be reviewed. Secondly, fieldwork on the four people’s associations in the US and Japan which have been working to seek for comprehensive healthcare and appropriate support for independent living will be conducted. Lastly, questionnaire survey will be administered to two of the four associations. Furthermore, this study will discuss the feasibility of a movement to bridge “medical governance”. “Governance” is considered to be a method of coordination and orientation conducted by the state on a large number of social organizations and networks, based upon negotiation and participation in a complex and risky environment. “Medical governance” is a political community of people, professionals, and government workers, which operates the alternative healthcare service and system under a collaborative setting. In my preliminary research, I have found several similarities and differences between the American and Japanese social movement organizations on health concerning characteristic of formations, method of activities, and funding resources. I hypothesize that the movement organizations in the US and Japan view health issues as a social problem and not as individual’s problems, and challenge governments and private companies (such as pharmaceuticals) on the types of relationship and connections they have with each other. Regarding on the differences, the cognition about civil movement and volunteer work, and healthcare system and socio-cultural background are analyzed. To compare people’s belief systems and activities in both countries will provide a better understanding of the present situation, and positive and negative results and the solutions for the social movements. Thus, this study will provide concrete recommendation for political decision-making of healthcare system to formulate a new design for arrangement of healthcare resources to improve the quality of people’s life, and to create a support system for people’s movement.