This of course penalizes people who took up smoking for example when it was

This of course penalizes people who took up smoking

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those who are perceived as not taking personal responsibility for their own health. This, of course, penalizes people who took up smoking, for example, when it was almost nor- mative, such as during the Second World War when soldiers were given packets of ciga- rettes routinely, and smoking was not known or recognized as linked to serious health problems. Similar thinking is sometimes at play in blaming irresponsible individual behaviours for HIV/AIDS infections. Somewhat paradoxically, advances in medical treatments have, in some ways, resur- rected the notion of the sick role. For example, highly technological interventions tend to conceptualize the human body as a kind of machine. The task of the doctor then is seen as restoring that machine to working order. Contexts – social, psychic or biographical – tend to be overlooked in the quest to restore the body from its sickness, or from the sick role. This is perhaps why ageing and chronic illness are perplexing for modern medicine (Carr, 2012), as are life narratives (see HRH The Prince of Wales, 2012; Timmermans, 2013). Early medical sociology tended to focus on social and social psychological factors thought to result in illness and to affect medical care. Straus (1957) made the distinction between sociology of medicine, the study of issues of interest to medical practitioners, and sociology in medicine, a more critical analytical stance intended to enhance socio- logical knowledge. The latter has produced important findings in several realms: on the distribution of illness/disease among subpopulations, on the social patterns of illness behaviours and responses, on various social means by which illness is dealt with, on the social organization of health services beyond medical practitioners. The foundation was laid for future research and the emergence of new theoretical paradigms. Researchers studying sociology in medicine, on the other hand, have, as Timmermans (2013: 1) sug- gests, ‘hitched their wagon to the broader health mandate: aiming to provide knowledge that directly benefits health, and more often, health care’. What is studied, and how, about health and illness is largely a question of the theoreti- cal lens chosen. Sociological research tends to have multiple ‘theory-methods packages’ where particular theories repeatedly are relied upon together with methodological stances (Clarke and Star, 2007). Conflict and power theoretical stances include Marxist theories, political economy approaches as well as gender/feminist and race or ethno-centric per- spectives. All of these, in varying ways, focus attention on differential power and access to resources. The dominance of medicine in defining health and in exerting control is a major theme in these theoretical perspectives. Capitalism and power relations, of course, are a principal theme in this theoretical stance. Gender, race and gay/lesbian/bisexual/ transsexual (GLBT) approaches have centred gender, race and sexual orientation as fun- damental to societal power relations, and hence the ways in which master narratives about health and illness are imposed (Mayer et al., 2008). Research relying on this lens
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  • Summer '18
  • Monroe
  • Sociology, The Land, Journal Of Health And Social Behavior, Social Science and Medicine

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