This course provides an introduction to central topics in the sociology of health and illness. The material covered in this course will encompass individual, institutional and theoretical approaches to health & illness. The course is designed to provide a critical framework for exploring how social, political, economic and cultural forces shape the understanding and experience of health and illness. We will explore the following themes: 1) the social production and distribution of disease and illness; 2) the meaning and experience of illness; 3) the social organization of medical care; 4) health politics and health systems.
At the completion of this course, the student will learn and understand:
- how the concepts of health and illness are socially constructed
- how social, political and economic factors shape an individual’s experience of health and illness
- the major methods and theories used to understand the distribution of health and illness in society
- the structure and organization of the health care system and the construction of medical knowledge from a critical perspective
Required Text and Readings
Conrad, Peter & Valerie Leiter. 2013. The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical Perspectives (9th Ed.) Worth Publishers (ISBN-10: 1-4292-5527-7).
Additional readings: In addition to above textbooks, other course materials including additional readings will be posted to Blackboard each week. Readings should be completed for the week they are assigned.
Your grade will be determined by three criteria:
1) Three exams 75%
2) assignment: short paper 15%
3) class participation 10%
Exams: three in-class exams (75%)
There will be three in-class exams worth 75 points each. The in-class exams will cover the readings and lecture materials covered prior to that exam. The format of the in-class exams will be multiple-choice, true and false, and short/medium-answer questions. Missed exams will be counted as zero unless arrangements are made in advance. Make-up exams will be given only if a physician’s note or other verifiable document is provided.
Assignment: short paper (15%)
Each student is required to write a paper no more than 5 double-spaced pages in length involving a sociological perspective of health, illness and health care. Papers must be presented in ASA format and be based upon a review of the appropriate literature. The information and guidelines for the assignment will be posted on Blackboard.
The paper assignment is due by the beginning of class. Late paper grades will be deducted 10% each day beyond the due date, and papers more than one week late will not be accepted. In such an incidence, a grade of zero will be given and factored into the final grade.
Class participation: In-class discussions and quizzes (10%)
The in-class components will be measured by pop quizzes and class participation. There will be several pop quizzes given periodically at the instructor’s discretion, based on weekly readings, class discussions, and films shown during class. In addition, students will engage in short discussions or working sessions as a group during class and will submit a written report. This report will include the discussion results and the names of students who participated in the discussion sessions. There will be NO in-class make-up quizzes and discussion reports regardless of the reasons for absence.
Attendance and Participation Policy
Attendance: Class attendance will not be formally taken. However, participation in class discussions will be a proxy for attendance and this may influence your final grade. You are allowed three non-penalized absences during the semester. Students who miss more than three classes, regardless of the reason, will have their semester grade reduced by one grade. In the event of absence, you will be responsible for all information presented in class.
Student conduct: Every student will be actively involved in classroom discussions. In order for everyone to feel comfortable voicing opinions or asking questions, a climate of tolerance and respect is essential.
Use of laptops in class for taking notes: Use of laptops in class is allowed for taking notes only. Other uses—like surfing the web or checking email—can be a distraction to those around you and are not permitted.