Beyond health: medicines, food supplements, energetics and the commodification of self-performance in Maputo

With an increasing range of products in global and local markets, more options are available for individuals to enhance their image and their (cognitive, social and physical) performance. These ‘performance consumptions’ relate to ideals of well-being and improvement, and are based on constructed desires, expectations and needs that go beyond the (often blurred) dichotomy of health and illness. Drawing from mixed-methods research in Maputo, Mozambique, this paper discusses individuals’ use of medicines and other substances – pharmaceuticals, food supplements, traditional herbs, cosmetics and energy drinks – for managing different aspects of their everyday lives. Through an overview of the main consumption practices, we explore the underlying purposes and strategies of users, and the perceived legitimacy and risks involved when using a variety of products accessible through formal and informal exchange channels. From tiredness to sexual and aesthetic management, we show how the body becomes the locus of experimentation and investment to perform in accordance with socially expected roles, individual aspirations and everyday tasks. With insights from individuals’ accounts in Maputo, we aim to add to discussions on pharmaceuticalisation of body management by showing how the emergence of new performance consumptions is articulated with the reconfiguration of more ‘traditional’ consumption practices.

Title: Beyond health: medicines, food supplements, energetics and the commodification of self-performance in Maputo
Authors: Rodrigues, Carla F.
Lopes, Nomia
Hardon, Anita
Year: 2019
Periodical: Sociology of Health & Illness (ISSN 0141-9889)
Volume: 41
Issue: 6
Pages: 1005-1022
Language: English
Geographic term: Mozambique
External link: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12880
Abstract: With an increasing range of products in global and local markets, more options are available for individuals to enhance their image and their (cognitive, social and physical) performance. These ‘performance consumptions’ relate to ideals of well-being and improvement, and are based on constructed desires, expectations and needs that go beyond the (often blurred) dichotomy of health and illness. Drawing from mixed-methods research in Maputo, Mozambique, this paper discusses individuals’ use of medicines and other substances – pharmaceuticals, food supplements, traditional herbs, cosmetics and energy drinks – for managing different aspects of their everyday lives. Through an overview of the main consumption practices, we explore the underlying purposes and strategies of users, and the perceived legitimacy and risks involved when using a variety of products accessible through formal and informal exchange channels. From tiredness to sexual and aesthetic management, we show how the body becomes the locus of experimentation and investment to perform in accordance with socially expected roles, individual aspirations and everyday tasks. With insights from individuals’ accounts in Maputo, we aim to add to discussions on pharmaceuticalisation of body management by showing how the emergence of new performance consumptions is articulated with the reconfiguration of more ‘traditional’ consumption practices.