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  • Apply functionalist, conflict theorist, and interactionist perspectives to health issues

Each of the three major theoretical perspectives approaches the topics of health, illness, and medicine differently. You may prefer just one of the theories that follow, or you may find that combining theories and perspectives provides a fuller picture of how we experience health and wellness.

Functionalism

According to the functionalist perspective, health is vital to the stability of the society, and therefore sickness is a sanctioned form of deviance. Talcott Parsons (1951) was the first to discuss this in terms of the sick role    : patterns of expectations that define appropriate behavior for the sick and for those who take care of them.

According to Parsons, the sick person has a specific role with both rights and responsibilities. To start with, she has not chosen to be sick and should not be treated as responsible for her condition. The sick person also has the right of being exempt from normal social roles; she is not required to fulfill the obligation of a well person and can avoid her normal responsibilities without censure. However, this exemption is temporary and relative to the severity of the illness. The exemption also requires legitimation    by a physician; that is, a physician must certify that the illness is genuine.

The responsibility of the sick person is twofold: to try to get well and to seek technically competent help from a physician. If the sick person stays ill longer than is appropriate (malingers), she may be stigmatized.

Parsons argues that since the sick are unable to fulfill their normal societal roles, their sickness weakens the society. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary for various forms of social control to bring the behavior of a sick person back in line with normal expectations. In this model of health, doctors serve as gatekeepers, deciding who is healthy and who is sick—a relationship in which the doctor has all the power. But is it appropriate to allow doctors so much power over deciding who is sick? And what about people who are sick, but are unwilling to leave their positions for any number of reasons (personal/social obligations, financial need, or lack of insurance, for instance).

Conflict perspective

Theorists using the conflict perspective suggest that issues with the healthcare system, as with most other social problems, are rooted in capitalist society. According to conflict theorists, capitalism and the pursuit of profit lead to the commodification    of health: the changing of something not generally thought of as a commodity into something that can be bought and sold in a marketplace. In this view, people with money and power—the dominant group—are the ones who make decisions about how the healthcare system will be run. They therefore ensure that they will have healthcare coverage, while simultaneously ensuring that subordinate groups stay subordinate through lack of access. This creates significant healthcare—and health—disparities between the dominant and subordinate groups.

Questions & Answers

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Holly
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Holly
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who give the concept of negative education
Zahid Reply
Is sociology a good optional subject for upsc
sohit Reply
yes
Albert
yes sociology is a good optional .Even Anu Kumari got rank 2 in 2017 upsc exam with sociology optional.
ANU
thanks for your suggestion
sohit
actually I also want to take sociology optional for upsc
ANU
Woow
Derrick
hello i am new to this subject ... anyone plz explain difference between social and sociological problems ...
Ali
what's Feminism?
samuel Reply
the adocacy on the ground the rights for women in the basis of sexism
Atta
wat is the concept of social living
Sherie Reply
what is egoistic suicide
Ghulam
egoistic suicide is when someone commits suicide as part of not feeling like they belong in society. It is also when someone struggles to find a reason to live and people who do commit egoistic suicide have weak or very little social bonds to their society.
Holly
is it that they dont have the relation with others in the society or they dont try to fit in...or better still they are mostly rejected
Barimah
A social structure is where human beings in a society interact & live together. A social life is seen as an individual's interpersonal relationships within peoples immediate surroundings or general public.
Holly
what is sexism
Gelana Reply
I'm not sure of the exact definition. I will define it as: the sociological term that refers to inequality and bias between the two genders.
Elizabeth
well. it the study is social interaction, and society
EMMANUEL
sexism is the descrimination in the basis of a person's gender.
Albert
what are the main contributions of Emile Durkheim to sociology
Alkemi Reply
what is meant by egoistic suicide
Ghulam
jh
kamran
discuss man's ability to function in the that ensure his survival
Beatrice
what are social facts
Gideon Reply
what is social facts
Gideon
what is social facts
Gideon
social facts: a thing originating in the institutions or culture of a society which affects the behaviour or attitudes of an individual member of that society.
the
So facts are in the institutions or culture of society that affects the behaviour or attitudes of an individual in society.
Holly
what is the scope of introduction to sociology
Ambrose Reply
what is sociol class and how sociol class is achieved
Ghulam
I understand that sociologists study society looking at its pattern. Is the pattern of a society or social world a fixed one? Please help me out.
Jimmy Reply
hi guys,am Eva,its the first am doing sociology. its new to me
evadne Reply
same
Holly
West Midlands UK you
Holly
yh me too
eroll
same here
Justbe
Kingston, Jamaica
evadne
yh and me to
Elizabeth
any input on it
evadne
me too
Abshar
me too😊
the
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Ghulam
cool
Holly
no its not new for you may be for other
Gelana
what are the types of cultures in sociology
Isreal Reply
can I just have the terms of the different families
Its Reply
Thanks a lot for welcoming me on board as we all interact and learn from each other.
Jimmy
there are many different types of families from two parents & children, single parent which consists of one parent raising one or more children on her/his own. then you the extended family structure from two or more adults who are related, either by blood or marriage, living in the same home.
Holly
important of sociology in the society
Maxine Reply
what are the need of sociology for uneducated people like velliger people who living beside the cities?
Abshar Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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