The National Health Service (NHS) officially ‘opened’ across Britain in 1948. It replaced a patchy system of charity and local providers, and made healthcare free at the point of use. Over the subsequent decades, the NHS was vested with cultural meaning, and even love. By 1992, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson declared that the service was ‘the closest thing the English have to a religion’. Yet in 2016, a physician publishing in the British Medical Journal asked whether the service was, in fact, a ‘national religion or national football’, referring to the complex politics of healthcare. Placards, posters, and prescriptions radically illuminates the multiple meanings of the NHS, in public life and culture, over its seventy years of life. The book charts how this institution has been ignored, worshipped, challenged, and seen as under threat throughout its history. It analyses changing cultural representations and patterns of public behaviour that have emerged, and the politics and everyday life of health. By looking at the NHS through the lenses of labour, activism, consumerism, space, and representation, this collection showcases the depth and potential of cultural history. This approach can explain how and why the NHS has become the defining institution of contemporary Britain.
with a different technical reality. As we will see in the next chapter, this second layer of technology transformation involves an infusion of meaning and value into technical practices. For Feenberg, the second layer is essential to critique because it is the realisation of human potential for a more meaningful world-relation that connects up the multiple real-world instances of technical politics, from computer hacking to patient activism. These activities are unified through the idea of released potential. Once technology has been opened up to democratic
with science and business on profile raising and fundraising. These activities are amplified and monetised by traditional and digital media which ‘align with a consumer-driven model of digital patient activism’ (Petersen et al. 2019 : 489). Facebook and other social media platforms such as Instagram are where patients become involved in what Gerlitz and Helmond have called the ‘like economy’, where ‘like buttons enable multiple data flows between various actors, contributing to a simultaneous de- and re-centralisation of the web’ (Gerlitz and Helmond 2013: 1248