Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Health Medicine and Society: An Introduction to Medical Sociology

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit will be divided into two topic clusters:

• The first will offer an introduction to the 'sociological imagination' and the different sociological perspectives that may lead an exploration of the interface between social relations, social institutions and health. It will also introduce the key topics in medical sociology such as: the social determinants of health, the lived experience of health and Illness, and the power dynamics within professional –patient encounters. This topic cluster will lay the foundation for further development in the study units to follow.

• The second will explore, in detail, the process of social construction of medical knowledge referring to key sociological texts to examine the process of medicalization and the shifts in dynamics in medicalization.

Study-unit Aims:

• to introduce the key perspectives in sociological theory;
• to introduce key concepts in medical sociology;
• to critically explore the basis of medical knowledge;
• to critically explore health behaviour and the discourse of health/medicine;
• to explore the process of social construction of illness. [Berger and Luckman, Friedson, Bury];
• to offer an understanding of the process of medicalisation, and the shifting dynamics in the wake of patient-led social movements;
• to explore the processes of surveillance and control within public health discourses. [introduce Foucault].

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• describe and discuss the limitations of the classic concept of the 'sick role' viewed as a form of 'legitimate deviance' in contemporary society;
• apply sociological theory to examine the process of social construction of illness;
• critically analyse the power relations driving the processes of medicalisation in contemporary society;
• refer to Foucauldian theory to critically analyse micro-power and surveillence in the context of population health and individual.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• think critically about contemporary social issues during classroom discussions and written assignments, and use classical/contemporary theory to address them;
• use online and library resources selectively and critically to augment study-unit material, navigate with confidence through online resources and understand how to distinguish between generic web sites and serious academic and professional tools;
• contribute effectively and confidently during focused group discussions, using logical arguments and applying the relevant theories;
• present a reasoned and well structured assignment on a set topic using recognized citation and referencing methods effectively and consistently;
• deliver a presentation of a set topic , working as a member of a team and using IT tools effectively.

All of these skills are transferable and will prove useful to students in a variety of fields.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


- ANNANDALE, E., 2014. The sociology of health and medicine: a critical introduction.2nd Edition Wiley.
- CALNAN, M., GABE, J. and WILLIAMS, S.J., 2002. Health, medicine and society: key theories, future agendas. Routledge.
- WHITE, K., 2016. An introduction to the sociology of health and illness. . London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage.


- WAINWRIGHT, D., 2008. A sociology of health. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study, Seminar and Tutorial

LECTURER/S Godfrey Baldacchino
Marjorie Bonello
Malcolm Bonello
Kurt Borg
Mark Anthony Falzon

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.