Essay about What Is Sociology of Health and Illness

843 Words Dec 17th, 2012 4 Pages
This brief abstract is a concept note on the subject of sociology of health and illness. It is going to give a brief sketch background of medical sociology, highlight various definitions of what is health, illness and how the production, distribution and patterns of diseases are influenced by the context in which they occur. The biomedical understanding of health and illness was entirely in the context of bacteriology and immunology dominated the subject of heath care systems for centuries. The history of medical sociology began in the 1800 with extensive contributions of Virchow to social medicine (Virchow, 1864). The resurgence of medical sociology and its institutionalization emerged in the 1960s and 1970s following the deficiencies of …show more content…
Medical knowledge is

not purely scientific, but shapes and is shaped by the society in which it develops. Sociologists, depending on their model of society, develop different explanations of the social shaping and production of disease (White, 2006)

Health is an elusive concept to define but according to WHO (1946 cited in White, 2006) it is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease, or infirmity”. Some definitions have forwarded that a perception of health or mental health is not only defined within the medical context, but it is also defined by the patient within a sociocultural context that includes family and social network as well as a wide selection of potential providers. Such definitions may vary from one culture to another (Maloof, 1991 in Kleinman 1978). A more reflective definition of health can be drawn from that of Illich (1975: 05) which defines health as “functioning effectively in many different environments, which can only do if we come to accept our various aches and pains and less than perfect physical and mental condition”.

Illness refers to the socio-cultural context within which disease is experienced. The patient and his or her family label, classify, and explain the sickness episode in such a way that it can be personally and socially meaningful (Kleinman, 1978). One may be ill but show no signs of sickness or disease for example

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