HLTB03 CHP.docx

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Health Studies
Michelle Silver

HLTB03 CHP . Notes Lecture 1 – Chapter 1: Ways of thinking Sociologically about Health, Illness and Medicine The Sociology of Health and Disease:  Seeks to describe and explain the social causes of illness, disease, disability and death  All of us experience illness in a social context  Uses four central perspectives to analyze different aspects of illness 1. Structural Functionalism:  Emile Durkheim provided both the theoretical and methodological models of structural functionalism  Social facts are to be treated as real, external to individuals, and yet capable of constraining and directing human behaviour and thought  Human beings are predictable, and controllable through the power of norms that exist in their own right  Structural functionalism: assumes that the proper level of study for the sociologist is the society of the system. The social system is said to be composed of parts, institutions that function to maintain order in the social system  Associated with the positivist methodology  Positivists assume that social scientists should and can remain objective and value-free while observing, recording, and measuring external social facts.  Five principles distinguish Structural Functionalism from other perspective: o Sociology aims to discover and to explain the impact of social facts on human behaviour, attitudes, and feelings o Social facts are to be treated as things that are real and external to human actions, and that determine human behaviour o Social facts can be seen in aspects of the social structure such as the norms that guide behaviour, in social institutions such as the family or the economy, and in social behaviours such as those in relationships in marriage or at work o The science considers that human behaviour is objectively and quantitatively measurable through methods such as experiments and survey research  The sick role: sickness could lead to societal breakdown resulting from the inability of the sick to fulfill their necessary social roles (parenting etc.). Therefore sickness must be managed. Someone being considered sick is only temporary and is contingent on the individual on the fulfillment of certain obligations by the person who claims the sick role. There are 4 components to the sick role: a. The sick person is exempt from ‘normal’ social roles:  The sick individual receives a legitimate excuse (eg. Doctor’s note)  The extent of their exemption depends on the severity of their sickness b. The sick person is not responsible for his or her condition:  The sickness must be the result of an accident or other circumstances  Diseases that are considered to be preventable or have stigmas such as mental illness are not given the social legitimacy of the sick role c. The sick person should try to get well:  He or she must do whatever it takes (following the doctor’s orders) to get well because the sick role is temporary  People who are diagnosed as having terminal illnesses must stop wanting to get better and should adjust to their new condition d. The sick person should seek technically competent help and co-operate with the physician  All positivists are not structural functionalists, todays positivists will look at independent and dependent variables of health topics, such as taking into consideration social behaviours when looking at illness 2. Conflict Theory:  All social arrangements, all sociological theories, and all sociological methods have political and economic bases and consequences.  Conflict theory tends to focus on class – or economic-based power relations and dynamics.  Developed by Karl Marx, he asserted that human thought and behaviour were the result of socio-economic relations  Class struggle = conflict. He believed that the only way to end the conflict was through a communist state in which all citizens owned the means of production  Conflict theory can be distinguished in the following ways:
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