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SOCI 3645

Revision 1. Topics - the distribution of disease an death (patterns and trends) - environmental conditions and morbidity/mortality, occupational health and safety issues, and health consequences (patterns and trends) - the socio-historical context of disease and mortality patterns - socio-demographic explanations of disease and mortality patterns; age and sex-related patterns of life expectancy, morbidity and mortality - class, gender, race, ethnic, and other social inequalities as explanations of morbidity and mortality patterns - status explanations - socio-psychological explanations - the experience of illness – acute and chronic; symbolism related to illness and mortality 2. Grand sociological approaches/theories in the study of health and illness - structural functionalism: objective definition of the role of the patient and his/her behaviour - assumptions: 1. The role of sociology is to discover and explain the impact of social facts on human behaviour, attitudes, and feelings; 2. Social facts should be treated as objective things that are real and external to human actions – they are independent from human behaviour and determine it; 3. Social facts are reflected in such aspects of social structure as norms and values, social institutions, and social behaviors. By analyzing these norms, institutions, and behaviors the sociologist seeks to uncover universal laws (regularities) that are causal; 4. Human behaviour is objectively and quantitatively measurable through experiments (in controlled samples and comparisons) and through surveys. 5. The study of social roles, which arise out of institutions, is essential to this approach. E.g. Parsons’ study of the role of the patient (the sick role) as: exempt from normal social roles, not responsible for his/her condition, normatively required to get professional help and to cooperate with professional prescriptions how to improve one’s health. 1 Examples: How socio-demographic structure determines morbidity/mortality patterns as outcomes of various distributions of age, sex, activity, etc. Epidemiological studies of specific conditions. Other approach: how illness patterns and the experiences of illness determine social behaviors and social structure, e.g. how the prevalence of illness and the utilization of health care alter socio-economic status and other structural variables. - conflict: explaining socio-historical contexts of illness and death; social inequality, class, gender, etc. as explanation of illness - assumptions: 1. Unequal distribution of health and illness results from social inequalities  the job of the sociologist is to uncover the nature and extent of these inequalities, to document injustice (exploitation, etc.) and if possible provide recommendations how to change things so as to create more equal chances; 2. All knowledge is rooted in social, historical, and material contexts: a pattern of mortality/morbidity cannot be explained without knowing what kind of injustice they reflect; 3. The sociological methods of research must be appropriate for taking into account of such contextual facts: example – class analysis; analysis of social change; analysis of patterns and the dynamics of power relations and how they create unequal health-related arrangements, such as access to health services, medications, insurance, etc. Example: The commodification of health services and pharmaceuticals: how a few large corporations control national and international markets of pharmaceuticals motivated by capitalist gain an depriving millions of people with AIDS, who cannot afford to pay for expensive treatment, from the opportunity to survive. Other topics: The study of medicalisation/deinstitutionalisation processes, home health care arrangements and roles; the social determinants of health, occupational causes of illness, the role of the tobacco industry, etc. - symbolic interactionism: explaining the experience of illness - assumptions: 1. The study of the social world
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