Sociology of Health

Health, illness and healing are not merely physiological states but also human experiences shaped by sociological forces. As Freund, McGuire and Podhurst point out in Health, Illness and the Social Body. A Critical Sociology [2003: 4], “The sick body is not simply a closed container, encased in skin that has been invaded by germs or traumatic blows but is also open and connected to the world that surrounds it. Thus the human body is open to the social body. Similarly, our material (or physical) environment, such as the urban landscape, the workplace, or our foods, is influenced by our culture, social structure, and relationships. And these in turn influence our bodies.” The course begins with a brief review of the history of past viewpoints and practices in western civilization toward health, healing and illness leading to the emergence of the modern medical profession, scientific medicine, and the establishment of the medical model as the primary paradigm of disease. We will examine the social factors that influence who  gets sick, the types of illness suffered, the experience of being sick, the process of seeking help, and the context in which medical care is delivered. We will discuss the effect of stress on health and the role that human relationships and social support play in mediating stress. We will assess the state of our health care system and compare it to other systems. In general, we will depend on the theories, concepts and findings from sociology as they apply in the study of this area to direct our focus and inform our analysis. Prerequisite: SOC 1001 or consent of the instructor. Satisfies a Social Science distribution requirement.  Fulfills a SOSC requirement in LS Core.


Liberal Arts



Course Number





Michelle Holiday-Stocking




Summer I



Start – End Dates

05/18/2020 - 06/26/2020

Student Registration Link

Other Registration Link