Cancer, Culture, and Individual Experience: Public Discourse and Personal Affliction
Article first published online: 2 NOV 2012
© 2012 by the American Anthropological Association.
Volume 40, Issue 4, pages 476–506, December 2012
How to Cite
Perusek, D. (2012), Cancer, Culture, and Individual Experience: Public Discourse and Personal Affliction. Ethos, 40: 476–506. doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1352.2012.01271.x
- Issue published online: 2 NOV 2012
- Article first published online: 2 NOV 2012
- public discourse;
- individual experience;
- illness narratives
From folk beliefs about how cancer spreads within the body and why “they” have yet to find a cure for it, to the cultural dimensions of personal condolences, and the ideological dimensions of cancer constructions in the media, I examine the ways in which U.S. culture and culture bearers frame the experience of cancer for cancer patients and their families. Viewing cultural frames as resources to be drawn on in time of need and engaging in participant-observation in the life of a family simultaneously confronted with two cancer diagnoses, one of which was terminal, I conclude that contemporary cultural understandings of cancer in the United States may often work as antiresources threatening lived experience with maddening distortion.