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Medical Sociology

Medical Sociology
An Introduction

November 2008 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
What are the limits of medical power? How has sociology helped to make sense of illness, disease, choice and risk? What are the challenges to medical practice?

This timely and assured text provides lecturers and students with a well informed, penetrating analysis of the key questions in medicine and society. The book is divided into three sections. It opens with a well judged account of the context of health and illness. It moves on to examine the process and experience of illness. Finally, it examines how health care is negotiated and delivered.

The result is an accessible, coherent and lively book that has wide inter-disciplinary appeal to students of medical sociology, medical care and health management.

Part 1 The social context of health and illness
A very brief history of medicine and society

1900 - the dawn of the twentieth century

First World War: 1914-1918


Second World War 1939-1945

1945 to the 21st century

Costs and benefits of 20th century medical innovation

Health inequalities

Medical transformations

Further reading

Revision questions & Extension questions

Defining the doctor's remit

Diagnosis: legitimate and illegitimate illness

Treating diagnosed disease

Defining death

Doing death

Defining doctors as special healers

Overlap with other professionals' work

Specialization to the point of incoherence?

Medicine's place in society

Further reading

Revision questions & Extension questions

Defining health, defining disease

Biomedical disease model

Limitations of the biomedical model

Defining health

Lay understandings of health

Dimensions of lay models of health

The context of health

Biomedical disease and the value of health

Further reading

Revision questions & Extension questions

Part 2 Getting ill, being ill
The social causes of disease

Class, ill health and industrial revolution

Social class and inequality

Public policy approaches to inequality

Mechanisms causing health inequalities by class

Ethnicity and inequality

Age and gender

Tackling health inequalities

Future prospects

International health inequalities

Further reading

Revision questions & Extension questions

Risk, choice and lifestyle

Individuals and their behaviours

Risk taking and thrill seeking

Risky sex and gay men

Prejudice and blame

Cousin marriage and congenital problems

Risk and preventative medicine

New risks, new diseases - we're all patients now?

Risk, lifestyle medicine - what next?

Further reading

Revision questions & Extension questions

Experiencing illness

The sick role

Sickness as deviance

Stigma and illness

Illness as failure

Biographical disruption and illness narratives


Remaking lives?

Further reading

Revision questions & Extension questions

Ill bodies in society

Bodies in society

Embodied illness

Dualist thinking

Bodies as machines

Suffering bodies

Impaired bodies and disability

Further reading

Revision & Extension questions

The process of disability

Disability and the life course

Chronic illness, impairment and disability

The social model of disability

The cultural model of disability

Special or universal needs

Further reading

Revision & Extension questions

Part 3 Getting healthcare
Doctor-patient relationships


Appropriate consultation

Compliance, co-operation, conflict

Inverse care law

Evidence on medical consultations

Communicating across the divide

Co-operation and challenge

Further reading

Revision & Extension questions

The healthcare organization

What's so special about the NHS?

Socialized medicine

Insurance system

Pluralist socialized system

Evaluating the NHS

Reforming the NHS

Clinical governance

Medical dominance

The role of the hospital

Commercial and industrial interests in the NHS

The context of care

Further reading

Revisions & extension questions

Challenges to medicine

Changing medical practice

Disappearing doctors, disappearing patients

Doctors' difficulties

Regulating medicine

Reform from within

Non-human threats


Further reading

Revision & Extension questions


Change and continuity

Effective care: competing priorities

The politics of communication




Provides a sophisticated introduction to the main issues in medical sociology. It is written in an accessible manner, making good use of examples and of questions that encourage the reader to reflect on the material that is presented. It gives a thoughtful and thorough account to provide advanced understanding - an excellent volume and one that I strongly recommend
Professor James Nazroo, Sociology
The University of Manchester

Hannah Bradby has written an introduction to medical sociology that resonates with the lives and concerns of medical students. She provides a sociological lens through which they can critically examine the organization, rituals, practices and evidence base of modern medicine. This book expands horizons by turning attention from illness to health, from high technology to human experience and from diagnosis and treatment to health outcomes
Professor Gary Albrecht
University of Illinois at Chicago, USA and University of Leuven, Belgium

Hannah Bradby's Medical Sociology: An Introduction pulls together a wealth of material on social aspects of medicine in society. The book combines cogent discussion with summaries, further reading and relevant questions. Essential for medical students and others studying health and illness, this lively text is set to become a market leader in its field
Mike Bury
Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Royal Holloway, University of London

It provides necessary information from the field of Medical Sociology

Dr Zsuzsanna Elekes
Institute of Sociology and Social Policy, Corvinus University of Budapest
July 25, 2019

The text is accessible and is underpinned by activities and questions designed to make the student think about what they have read and apply it.

Mrs Marcia Louise Dewar
health and social science, Bradford College
October 25, 2015

Book excellent for definitions on a introductory lesson.

Mr Lewis Simpson
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
January 10, 2014

This is an excellent text but it is written with the medical student in mind, rather than a social science undergraduate student. It is an excellent book which I shall use as a supplemental text, but does not cover all of the topics that I teach in this course, and does not cover them from a sociological perspective.

Dr Julianne Law
School of Social Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
August 31, 2011

A really useful book that covers key issues in the sociology of health very well.

Dr Daniel Bloyce
Dept of Sport & Excercise Science, Chester University
October 20, 2010

accessible, well laid out, very well received by students

Ms Victoria Lavender
Mental Health & Learning Disabilities, University of the West of England, Bristol
July 23, 2010

Good specific text for more able students.

Janet Scammell
School of Health and Social Care, Bournemouth University
June 1, 2010

A very good text, accessible and relevant.

Professor Anthony Pryce
Applied Behavioural & Biological Scis, City University
October 16, 2009

Sample Materials & Chapters

Introduction PDF

Chapter One PDF

For instructors

This book is not available as an inspection copy. For more information contact your local sales representative.

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ISBN: 9781412902199

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