SOCI 469: Medicine and Society

The overall goal for this course is to give you an understanding (and appreciation) of the social as well as the biological aspects of medicine, including the meaning of health, illness, medical diagnoses and treatments, and issues concerning the healthcare system. When you have completed the course, you should be able to

  • understand the tools to distinguish between disease (biological pathology) and illness (socially determined) as experienced on both the individual and societal levels
  • recognize the differences in “illness distribution” both between and within various groups (gender, race, age, and so on) in an attempt to highlight a number of the social determinants of health
  • appreciate physicians and other healthcare workers as professionals, including the processes of education and socialization that define their work
  • understand the US healthcare system, including a comparison to countries with national healthcare (and form an opinion about potential for reform)
  • think critically about how sociology can be applied to the medical field, and use “sociological” tools to uncover the social determinants and consequences of health and disease.

Required Texts:

  • Budrys, Our Unsystematic Health Care System, 3rd edition (2011), ISBN 978-1442210691
  • Budrys, Unequal Health, 2nd edition (2010), ISBN 978-0742565074
  • Cockerham, Medical Sociology, 10th edition (2006), ISBN 978-0131729247
  • Roter and Hall, Doctors Talking with Patients, Patients Talking with Doctors, 2nd edition (2006), ISBN 978-0275990176
  • Abraham, Mama Might Be Better Off Dead (1993), ISBN 978-0226001395
  • Klinenberg, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (2002), ISBN 978-0226443225

View a sample course syllabus.

Contact the Friday Center at with any questions or for more information.

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