Labeling Theory Of Illness

912 Words 4 Pages
When examining the illness behavior of two patients with the same symptoms, it was discovered that each patient had exhibited different types of behaviors in terms of the sick role. One patient wanted to seek out medical care while the other patient attempted to ignore their symptoms. First, labeling theory is a concept that is used by sociologist to explain illness behavior. Sociologists, Freidson suggests that, illness behavior is a relative act of deviant behavior because, it disrupts normal social functioning. Second, Howard Becker uses labeling theory to explain how, deviant behavior by one person or social group may not be considered deviant behavior by other persons or social group. Furthermore, there are strengths and weaknesses, …show more content…
This explains why labeling theorists such as Freidson, suggest that illness is a condition created by humans, used to better understand their diagnosis. He uses legitimacy to distinguish among the sick roles, he states that there are three forms of legitimacy, which vary from a minor to a serious deviation. First, there is conditional legitimacy, where the deviants are temporarily excused from normal social behavior, while also gaining some privileges, but only if they seek medical help to rid them of their sickness. Second, there is unconditional legitimacy, where deviants are excused indefinitely from normal obligations and are granted privileges because of the seriousness of their condition. Lastly, there is illegitimacy, this is where the deviant is excused from some normal obligations by their deviance, in which they are technically not responsible for. They gain a limited amount of privileges and take on the label of handicapped. Furthermore, Freidson’s system determines that there are different consequences for everyone, and their social treatment of other people is determined on the specific label that is applied to the deviant’s health disorder. Consequently, Freidson’s concept does not help us to explain why people define themselves as being sick and need of medial help, but it does help us to categorized the …show more content…
It addresses itself to the specific disparities in illness behavior that are existing in different socioeconomic and ethnocultural groups in American society. Next, it provides a framework of analysis for illness behavior according to the definition and perception of a specific social group. It also allows sociologist to account for the differences between social environment and types of illness as well. Unfortunately, there are a few weaknesses or criticisms in the labeling theory. First, it does not explain what causes deviance other than social reactions to an act. Sociologist would deny that deviance was created when norms and rules were established. Second, labeling theory does not examine the commonalities among deviant actors; other than their sharing a label. They may also share stress, poverty, age, and family background. These commonalities may be more important than the label or reaction from the social audience. Lastly, labeling theory does not explain why certain people commit deviant acts and others in the same circumstances do

Related Documents

Related Topics