Health and Illness shape our everyday lives in fundamental ways. But what is social about
diseases and therapies, cells and bacteria? How can social sciences help us understand
biomedicine and healthcare and their interconnections with social life?
This course will offer a systematic introduction to the different branches of medical sociology. In
each class we will explore a different set of interactions between biomedicine and socio-political
institutions. First we will review classical literature in sociology of professions to analyze
medicine itself as field of struggle between competing groups of experts. In the following classes
we will examine the co-dependence of biomedicine and state institutions: from law, to education
and welfare. Then we will turn to study patient mobilization to examine biomedicine and
healthcare as arenas of social movements and identity formations. We will review research on
health inequalities and on the interactions between biomedicine and social categories such as
gender and race. Finally will turn to examine biomedicine from a global perspective. We will
review the development of global pharmaceutical industries and markets, and consider how
recent trends of migration interact with question of biomedicine and health. The class will be
held in English. Student must prepared to complete all requirements (readings and take-home
assignments) in English.
Week 1: Introduction: What Is Social About Medicine?
Kellie Owens. 2017. Too Much of a Good Thing? American Childbirth, Intentional Ignorance,
and the Boundaries of Responsible Knowledge
Week 2: Sociology of the Medical Profession
Abbot A. 1988. The System of Profession: An Essay On the Division of Expert Labor. The
University of Chicago Press. Introduction, Chapter 1.
Freidson E. 1980. The Profession of Medicine: A Study of the Sociology of Applied Knowledge.
University of Chicago Press. Take home assignment 1
Week 3: Medicine and State Institutions
Krueger, G. 2008. Hope and Suffering: Children, Cancer, and the Paradox of Experimental
Medicine. n Johns Hopkins University Press. Chapters 1 and 2.
Golan, T. 2007. Law of Men an Laws of Nature. Harvard University Press. Chapter 5: The
Authority of Shadows: The Law and X-Rays
Jasanoff S. 2011. Reframing Rights: Bio-constitutionalism in the Genetic Age. MIT Press.
Week 4: Do Patients Matter? Medicine and Social Movements
Epstein, S. 1996. Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. University of
California Press, 1996.
Eyal G. et al. 2010. The Autism Matrix. Polity Press. (Chapters TBD)
Nelson A. 2011. Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party And The Fight Against Medical
Discrimination. University of Minnesota Press. (Chapters TBD) Take home assignment 2
Week 5: Medicalization
Conrad and Schneider. 1992. Deviance and Medicalization: From Badness to Sickness. Temple
University Press. (Chapters TBD)
Week 6: Health Inequalities
Roberts D. 2011. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-create Race in the
Twentieth Century. The New Press.
David, W. Stemthal M. 2010. “Understanding Racial/ethnic Disparities in Health: Sociological
Contributions” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Vol 51
Additional readings: TBD
Week 7: Medicine and Global Immigration
Petryna A. 2009. When Experiments Travel: Clinical Trials and The Global Search for Human
Subjects. Princeton University Press.
Lakoff, A. Collier, S. J. (Ed.). 2008. Biosecurity Interventions: Global Health and Security in
Question. New York: Columbia University Press. Final Take-home Exam!