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This photo depicts medical workers with a face mask and gloves training for safety so they can enter infection zones.
Medical personnel are at the front lines of extremely dangerous work. Personal protective clothing is essential for any health worker entering an infection zone, as shown by these trainees for the UK's National Health Service. (Photo courtesy of DFID - UK Department for International Development/flickr)

According to the World Health Organization and ABC Health News, on March 19, 2014 a "mystery" hemorrhagic fever outbreak occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This outbreak was later confirmed to be Ebola, a disease first discovered in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 2014 outbreak started a chain reaction in West Africa, sickening more than 8,000 people and leaving more than 4,000 dead by October.

At the time of this writing, Ebola is national news in the United States, and certainly global news as well. Infection of U.S. medical staff (both in West Africa and at home) has led to much fear and distrust, and discussion of restrictions on flights from West Africa was one proposed way to stop the spread of the disease. Ebola first entered the United States via U.S. missionary medical staff who were infected in West Africa and then transported home for treatment. The case of Thomas Eric Duncan, who unwittingly imported Ebola into the United States as he flew from Liberia to Texas in September 2014 to visit family, increased the level of fear.

How do we best respond to this horrific virus? Restrict visitors from West Africa, enhance training and protective gear for all U.S. medical workers and law enforcement? Many concerns surround this disease and few agree upon the appropriate response. You can follow the progression of the outbreak at (External Link) .

The Ebola case brings many issues to the forefront. Are we in the cross-hairs of a large-scale Ebola epidemic in the United States? Or are the few cases of infection (primarily of health professionals) as far as the disease will spread in the United States? In the short term, how do we best prevent, identify, and treat current and potential cases?

The sociology of health encompasses social epidemiology, disease, mental health, disability, and medicalization. The way that we perceive health and illness is in constant evolution. As we learn to control existing diseases, new diseases develop. As our society evolves to be more global, the way that diseases spread evolves with it.

What does “health” mean to you? Do you believe that there are too many people taking medications in U.S. society? Are you skeptical about people claiming they are “addicted” to gambling or “addicted” to sex? Can you think of anything that was historically considered a disease but is now considered within a range of normality? Or anything that has recently become known as a disease that before was considered evidence of laziness or other character flaws? Do you believe all children should receive vaccinations? These are questions examined in the sociology of health.

Sociologists may also understand these issues more fully by considering them through one of the main theoretical perspectives of the discipline. The functionalist perspective is a macroanalytical perspective that looks at the big picture and focuses on the way that all aspects of society are integral to the continued health and viability of the whole. For those working within the functionalist perspective, the focus is on how healthy individuals have the most to contribute to the stability of society. Functionalists might study the most efficient way to restore “sick” individuals to a healthy state. The conflict perspective is another macroanalytical perspective that focuses on the creation and reproduction of inequality. Someone applying the conflict perspective might focus on inequalities within the health system itself, by looking at disparities in race, ethnicity, gender, and age. Someone applying the interactionist perspective to health might focus on how people understand their health, and how their health affects their relationships with the people in their lives.

References

ABC News Health News. "Ebola in America, Timeline of a Deadly Virus." Retrieved Oct. 23rd, 2014 ( (External Link) ).

Centers for Disease Control. 2011b.“Pertussis.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 15, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Conrad, Peter, and Kristin Barker. 2010. “The Social Construction of Illness: Key Insights and Policy Implications.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51:67–79.

CNN. 2011. “Retracted Autism Study an 'Elaborate Fraud,' British Journal Finds.” CNN , January 5. Retrieved December 16, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Devlin, Kate. 2008. “Measles worry MMR as vaccination rates stall.” The Telegraph , September 24. Retrieved January 19, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Sugerman, David E., Albert E. Barskey, Maryann G. Delea, Ismael R. Ortega-Sanchez, Daoling Bi, Kimberly J. Ralston, Paul A. Rota, Karen Waters-Montijo, and Charles W. LeBaron. 2010. “Measles Outbreak in a Highly Vaccinated Population, San Diego, 2008: Role of the Intentionally Undervaccinated.” Pediatrics 125(4):747–755. Retrieved December 16, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

World Health Organization. 2014. "Global Alert and Response." Retrieved Oct. 23rd 2014 ( (External Link) ).

Zacharyczuk, Colleen. 2011. “Myriad causes contributed to California pertussis outbreak.” Thorofar, NJ: Pediatric Supersite. Retrieved December 16, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Questions & Answers

which distinguish between community and tribe
Shah Reply
Community is quite different from tribe....gemienschaft and gesselschaft
Mc
what is institution.... according to sociology..?
RAJES Reply
what does mean rationality according to j.habermas
Shah Reply
factors contributing to cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
What is cultural inertia?
Thabsile Reply
difference between urban and rural areas
Thabsile Reply
What does law in a society mean
Alisha Reply
What is socialization
Thabsile
socialization, is the behavioural process of human to adopt or acceptable in their various societies.From Moses Ebena
Hitmos
Which human being bcme social being
Lukman
I'm writing paper 2 bridging course final year so it also includes sociology plz help guys
Thabsile
Culture is a way of of people life
Lukman
ottways says that.... what in ur whole life that is cultue
Shah
law in a society mean rule of governing authority that allow and forbid the said acts.answer is for Alisha
Imtiyaz
what is social stratification plx give me answer
yasir
social stratification means social differentiation based on occupation, social status
Imtiyaz
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position
Mc
Social stratification means hierarchical arrangement of an individual or group of individual into strata or position of social statificition
Rashmiranjan
social stratification is a kind of social diffrentation where by a society groups people into socio_ economic strata , based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status or derived power (social and Political).
Meer
plz tell me changing gender spaces in family ,work and its implications on the individual and society across culture?
Meer
I don't no
Rashmiranjan
stratification in sociology what does it mean?
salem
stratification refers to a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy...
mulena
the difference some groups have greater status, power, and wealth than other groups....
mulena
what is society
yasir Reply
society means any geographical area where group of people share equal practice of living activities culture and other aspects
Imtiyaz
yes
Darlene
Or it is a group of persons,sharing self-sufficient system of action that is capable of lasting longer than the life span of any individual
Omar
sociology, deal on society,human social interaction with separate people and not only as individuals, for example school, churches and associations.
Hitmos
oh wow im just realizing theres a chat forum 😯
Tyrone
Yeah hi...
Max weber
Kelvine
what is the relevance of sociology
Alqaseem Reply
hi
Nath
hi
noumbisi
hello
Marc
how do u do?
noumbisi
hiiii
yasir
Hi, good evening. please can someone help me emphasized more on that religion?
Nath Reply
As sociologist we endorse anything that supports the continuity of society and harmonize the society and its elements is good... We don't really worry about the authenticity of its origin... If you have studies the sociological perspectives you will know that there are different views on religion..
look what each classical theorist have said about religion...
what is a religion
Zahid Reply
ll grade sociology ga notes h k
Sunil
Religion involve those things which surpasses the limit of our knowledge.
shoaib
religion is believe it one God
DAVE
What is Social Psychology? and why social psychology?
WILLIAM Reply
learn about the people and understand there need to live in society what there basic need and learning institutions
Ghulammurtaza
Social Psychology deals with the study of individual as part of a group or communty and how they affect each other.
Sadiq
behavior study of humans are there institutions are social psychology but if they are study about society that means the learn about there living structure
Ghulammurtaza
social psychology means it formed after combined sociology and psychology and itis new descipline.
salem
social psychology study behavior reference society
Rajesh
what is sociology?
Omeneke Reply
It's a field of study which studies about human Society... (to make you more clear... the psychology studies single individual where as sociology studies group of individual who forms society)
sociology is study of socity
Sadia
not only study but it study with scientific method and sociological approach
Rajesh
rite #rajesh sosa
Sadia
thanks
Rajesh
hey help me defining sociological guru's ideas
luther
what is culture
Nandala Reply
what is urbanisation
Nandala
What are the weaknesses of the conflict theory
Skeazo 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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