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Christine L. Williams, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Isaac Sasson

M.A., M.S., University of Texas at Austin

PhD Candidate; PRC Graduate Student Trainee
Isaac Sasson



Isaac Sasson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and graduate trainee at the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. A native-born Israeli, he attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and upon graduation moved to Texas to pursue his scholarly passion for fertility, migration, and mortality (having experienced two of the three demographic processes). Isaac holds Master’s degrees in sociology and statistics from UT-Austin and is currently completing his doctoral dissertation, studying the trends, causes, and consequences of the educational gradient in U.S. adult mortality.

Isaac enjoys working in diverse subject areas and has conducted research on fertility and natural capital in sub-Saharan Africa using satellite imagery, widowhood and depression using longitudinal data, and properties of nonlinear hierarchical models using simulation. He is a former graduate fellow of the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences and statistical consultant at the Population Research Center at UT-Austin.

SOC F354K • Sociology Of Health & Illness

88170 • Summer 2013
Meets MTWTHF 100pm-230pm CLA 0.128
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Course Description

Health inequality is perhaps the most fundamental of social inequalities, and as such continues to be a primary topic of interest for sociologists. Despite remarkable improvements in human health and longevity over the past two centuries, health disparities persist across multiple social dimensions. The main course objective is then to move beyond biological and biomedical explanations of disease, which emphasize individual risk factors, and instead view health and illness as socially patterned phenomena. The first half of the course will examine two disparate macro-sociological phenomena: 1) the transition from societies with high mortality and life expectancy below 40 to societies characterized by chronic diseases and life expectancy exceeding 80; 2) the persistence of health inequality across class, race, and gender throughout the same historical period. The second part of the course will deal with micro-sociological aspects of health, including health behaviors and their diffusion through social networks. The third part will deal with the medical profession and social construction of medical knowledge. Toward the end of the course, if time permits, we will cover additional topics such as the health care system and bioethics. While the course is primarily focused on contemporary U.S. society, it will often employ historical and global perspectives in comparison.


Readings will be posted on Blackboard.


5% Class participation and office hour attendance (at least once throughout semester)

35% Written assignments

30% Midterm exam

30% Final exam

Letter grades will be based on the following performance levels: A (94-100), A- (90-93), B+ (87-89), B (84-86), B- (80-83), C+ (77-79), C (74-76), C- (70-73), D+ (67-69), D (64-66), D- (60-63), F (59 or lower)

* Grading scheme subject to change until first class day


SOC S308 • Intro Sociol Health/Well-Being

88620 • Summer 2012
Meets MTWTHF 830am-1000am BUR 216
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The course introduces how sociological theory can contribute to our understanding of health, illness, mortality, and medicine. The main course objective is to move beyond biological and medical explanations of disease, which typically focus on the individual, and instead view health and illness as social phenomena. First, we examine the social determinants of disease and mortality in the U.S. and the West, as well as the main health challenges facing less developed nations. Then, we shift our focus to sociological models of illness at the individual level and the spread of health behaviors through social networks. In the third section we gain critical insight into the medical profession and the construction of medical knowledge. Toward the end of the course, if time permits, we will cover additional topics including the health care system, bioethics, and environmental risks. While the course will focus primarily on contemporary U.S. society, we will often employ historical and global perspectives in comparison.


Weitz, Rose. 2012. The Sociology of Health, Illness, and Health Care: A Critical Approach (6th edition). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing.


Course grades will be determined as follows:

5% Class participation + attend office hours at least once

20% Two written assignments (10% each)

15% Group assignment

30% Midterm exam

30% Final exam


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