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Lecture 2

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Kristen Tole

Medical Sociology and Theory Part I: Parsons and Illich Why theory? - Part of sociological investigation, you don’t have a project unless you have a theory o Operates as a series of statements or generalizations that explain the social world or conceptual relationships - Causal statements (if x then often y) Structural Functionalism – Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) - Focus on ideas, norms - Integration of individual actions oriented to norms and values - Cultural patterns influence normative conceptions of medical knowledge and practice - He wants to view illness through lens of culture The Social System (1951) - Disease involves bodily (and social) dysfunction – bodily dysfunction leads to social dysfunction if you let it go too long - Being sick (identified and accepted as ill) is a role governed by social expectations - Analysis of the motivational factors o Medical profession says we are health by; blood pressure, blood tests, height and weight, bmi - Illness as special form of deviance, functional to the social system o They feed off of each other, if no one gets sick there are no doctors no medical system - Patients can be active participants in their care - Patients will often seek information about their care/condition - Actively is influenced by the imbalanced relationship between patient and physician Sick Role - Operates as an ideal type or construct: something to compare to, to see who fits through those parameters - Influenced by institution and reactions - Religious influences: some religious deny that certain sickness’s exist, think spiritual treatment is better or that one is possessed, deny certain treatments or medicine’s causing you to stay sick or get worse - Sickness as a social role: you don’t go out with friends as often, you don’t do chores such as laundry - Four components to “Sick Role” 1. Exemption from normal social role responsibilities  no cooking, cleaning, laundry  don’t go to work: so you don’t get everybody else sick  exempt from blame, you didn’t do this on purpose  exemption must be legitimated by some authority, doctor of some kind 2. exemption from responsibility for being ill  ill must admit they are ill  ill must be looked after 3. Sick are obliged to want to get better 4. Obliged to seek technically competent help and co-operate in trying to get better  Restore the functional efficiency to the individual and ultimately society - Problems with Parson’s model: 1. Does not adequately deal with disability or chronic illness, mental illness or addictions 2. Unable to view the body as non-pathological and active 3. Cultural influences on constitutes appropriate illness behaviours 4. Situations where legitimacy of illness label is withheld or conditional 5. Moral dimensions to illness and health: if you have cancer, you have cancer, but if you get an STI oh no you were playing somewhere you shouldn’t have been, you need to report it to the someone so they can warn the people you’ve slept with and the people they’ve slept with and so on
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