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Sociological Perspectives of Health

Sociological Perspectives of Health - influence health...

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Sociological Perspectives of Health The Functionalist Perspective • Functionalists argue that if society is to function well, its people need to be healthy enough to perform their normal roles. This means societies must set up ways to control sickness. One way they do this is to develop a system of medical care. Also, rules are developed to keep too many people from “being sick.” Sick role – a social role that excuses people from normal obligations because they are sick or injured, while at the same time expecting them to seek competent help and cooperate in getting well. - Talcott Parsons pointed out that the sick role has four elements: 1) You are not responsible for being sick 2) You are exempt from your normal responsibilities 3) You don’t like the role 4) You will get competent help so you can return to your routines The Symbolic Interactionist Perspective • Symbolic Interactionists focus on (1) how meanings, definitions, and labels
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Unformatted text preview: influence health, illness, and health care and (2) how such meanings are learned through interaction with others and through media messages • Symbolic Interactionists see illness as socially constructed—that is, there are no diseases in nature. Instead, there are only conditions that social groups have come to define as illness or disease. For example, psychiatrist Thomas Szasz argued that what we call “mental illness” is no more than a label conferred on those individuals who are “different” (i.e., those who don’t conform to social definitions of appropriate behavior). • Definitions of health and illness vary over time and from society to society. In some countries, being fat is a sign of health and wellness; in others, it is an indication of mental illness or lack of self-control. Similarly, cigarette smoking was once defined as glamorous in the U.S....
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