What we consider to be healthy is shaped by society; we compare our own health with those around us and identify illness according to social norms. But how are these standards established and how do they change? Is health a personal trouble or a public issue? And can sociology allow us to develop a comprehensive analysis of the determinants of health?
This book examines how social theory shows us that health is not only shaped by our access to medical interventions, but also by power and inequality. From the personal experience of the unwell individual to the social, historical, cultural, and economic factors that affect national morbidity rates, the text looks at medical sociology from micro and macro levels. The chapters use examples from the most significant empirical work in the field to shed light on and challenge classical and contemporary social theory. In particular, the book looks at recent developments in medical sociology by specifically analyzing:
• Inequities based on income, gender, and racism
• The role of the pharmaceutical industry in shaping our ideas about disease
• Medical encounters and the medicalization of everyday life
• The structure of health care systems and health care reformsHealth and Social Theory
is a concise, comprehensive and cutting edge account of medical sociology. It is essential critical reading for all scholars and students interested in the field.