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cockherham final.docx - CHAPTER 8 THE SICK ROLE Illness as...

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CHAPTER 8: THE SICK ROLE Illness as Deviance The medical view of illness - deviance from a biological norm of health and feeling of well-being o This view involved the presence of a pathogenic mechanism within the body that can be objectively documented Traditional identifying criteria for diseases are: o 1 the patient’s experience of subjective feelings of sickness o 2 the finding by the physician through examination and/or laboratory tests or other indicators that the patient has disordered function of the body o 3 the patient’s symptoms conforming to a recognizable clinical pattern Clinical pattern - representation of a model or theory of disease held by the diagnostician In Medical sociology the term: o Disease - characterized as an adverse physical state, consisting of a physiological dysfunction within an individual o Illness - as a subjective state, pertaining to an individual’s psychological awareness of having a disease and usually causing that person to modify his or her behavior o Sickness - as social state, signifying an impaired social role for those who are ill Sociologists view sickness as a form of deviant behavior o Initially founded by Talcott Parsons (1951) - concept of the sick role; describes the normative behavior a person typically adopts when feeling sick o Parsons saw being “sick” as a disturbance in the “normal” condition both biologically and socially Deviant behavior involves making a social judgment about what is right and proper behavior according to a social norm Conformity → rewarded by group on approved behavior; Deviant → disapproval of behavior, punishment The biological view of deviance has been rejected by sociologists because it relies too much on physiology of individuals and overlooks the implications of social norms and judgments. The Functionalist Approach to Deviance Functionalism (structural functionalism) - stressing societal-level processes, systems, equilibrium, and interrelationships - early sociological view of deviance o Approach is based on the theoretical view that society is held together in a state of equilibrium by harmonious patterns of shared norms and values o “Functional” because it results in social harmony and counterbalances “dysfunctional” processes like crime and mental illness, which disrupts social order o Similar to homeostasis in the body o Theory depicts social systems as composed of closely interconnected parts and that changes/decisions/definitions made in one part can affect another o Deviance in a social system is reduced through the application of social sanctions against the offender o Sick people are dysfunctional as they threaten to interfere with the stability of the social system (unable to perform daily tasks, create an obstacle) Parson’s theory of the sick role (^^) The Sick Role Parsons introduces this concept in (1951) The Social System : explain the complex functionalist model of society o
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  • Fall '12
  • Richter
  • Physician,  Require intervention of social agents

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