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The Sociology of Health and Illness
SOC 262
Spring 2007
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: SISP 262

This course addresses central topics in health, illness and medicine from the vantage point of key sociological perspectives and theories. The objective is to broaden and deepen students' conceptual knowledge of some of the defining health care debates and phenomena of our time We will explore such questions as: How do differing cultural constructions of health and illness--especially Western versus non-Western conceptions--affect treatment and outcomes, and what can be meant by "informed consent" under such circumstances of radical cultural alterity? Why do political and economic institutions facilitate the growth and spread of preventable contemporary illnesses, and then offer an ineffectual, expensive health care system that ill-serves the vast majority of people? The economic hegemony of the pharmaceutical industry is emblematic of this problem. What is the nature of the relationship between social inequality and the distribution of health, illness, and care in U.S. society? Are epidemiology and health care provision isomorphic with or reflective of social inequalities of race, class, gender, sexuality and nationality? This question breaks down further into who gets sick and who provides care, and what the nature of the patient-doctor relationship is. Along with these questions, we will also consider the circumstances under which medicalization--the application of the medical model to a human physical or behavioral condition--becomes a means of social control. Mental illness, as Foucault and Goffman have shown, is paradigmatic. We will also examine whether political and social movements are effective at altering the national and international health care agenda and producing fundamental changes in research and care provision. Finally, the course will take up the question of why it is some biophysical phenomena become subject to moral and ethical scrutiny and others do not. We will examine these questions, in part, by using specific "case studies" that analyze such problems as HIV/AIDS politics, research, and activism; pediatric medicine; breast cancer; mental health; and reproductive health, medicine and the new genetic technologies. In each substantive case we examine, we will also consider how people exert resistance to what they perceive as unjust or injurious in cultural definitions of health and illness, and how they attempt to transform or provide alternatives to the care delivery system.

Essential Capabilities: Speaking, Writing
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS SOC
Course Format: Lecture/DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: SOC151 OR SOC152
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (SISP)(SISP-ScieDblMjr)(SISP-Soc Conc)(SOC)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on JAN-20-2020
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