Sociology 330

Sociology of Health and Illness

Idaho State University
Spring 2007
M/W 2:15-3;30 PM
BA 308

David H. Kessel

Office Hours.........M/W: 1:30-2:15 PM


Please click on each link...You will find answers to most of your questions here...look here first...before asking in class...Thanks.

Catalog Course Description

Class Policies and Comments

What you'll need for SOC 330

Schedule of Topics and Readings

Required Reading Materials

Assignments and Instructions

Due Dates

Summary of Points in Course

Grading Scale

Grading Standards


Web Basics
A Tutorial for beginners and veterans, too

ISU Homepage

TSS Directory

Catalog Course Description

Sociological examination of health and illness including social and cultural variables related to illness, conceptual problems in research on health care, and a discussion of the professions associated with health care.

Grading Scale

A......95-100 (Excellent)
A-.....90-94 (Good/Excellent)

B+....87-89 (Very Good)
B......84-86 (Good)
B-.....80-83 (Good/Fair)

C+....77-79 (Fair)
C......74-76 (Fair/Basic)
C-.....70-73 (Basic)

D+....67-69 (Poor/Basic)
D......64-66 (Poor)
D-....60-63 (Very Poor)

F......??-59 (Needs alot more)

Required Reading Materials

The Sociology of Health, Illness, and Health Care: A Critical Approach, Fourth Rose Weitz

Health 07/08 Reader...Annual Editions

Selected material from The Sociology Shop

Schedule of Topics and Readings

(W = Weitz text)
(AE = Annual Editions Reader) (TSS = The Sociology Shop)

1/08-1/10...Introduction/Course Details/The Sociology Shop (TSS)


1/17-22-24....Selected Sociological Concepts (TSS), Preface & (W1)(Chapter Outline)(Key Terms)

----------Definition of Sociology

----------Why Study Sociology?


----------Social Act/Relation/Situation
----------Levels of Reality
----------Definition of the Situation/Thomas Theorum
----------Paradigms and Paradigm Article and Purple

1/29-1/31...The Social Sources of Illness (W2)(Chapter Outline)(Key Terms) (AE20)

2/5-2/7...The Social Distribution of Illness in the U.S. (W3)(Chapter Outline)(Key Terms) (AE2)

2/12-2/14...Illness in the Developing Nations (W4)(Chapter Outline)(Key Terms) (AE34)



2/26-2/28...The Social Meanings of Illness (W5) (Chapter Outline) (Key Terms) (AE8)
---------- Sickness as Deviance and the Issue of Social Control

3/5-3/7...The Experience of Disability, Chronic Pain and Chronic Illness (W6) (Chapter Outline) (Key Terms)

3/12-3/14...SPRING BREAK

3/19-3/21...The Sociology of Mental Illness (W7) (Chapter Outline) (Key Terms) (AE7)
----------Mental Illness Is Still a Myth
----------On Being Sane in Insane Places
----------The Psychology of Normalcy

3/26-3/28...The U.S. Health Care System & the Need for Reform ((Key Terms)(W8)

4/2-4/4...Alternative Health Care Systems (Key Terms)(W9)

4/9-4/11...Health Care Settings and Tecnologies (Key Terms)(W10)
----------The Medicalization of Old Age

4/16-4/18...The Profession of Medicine (Key Terms)(W11)

4/23-4/25...Other Mainstream & Alternative Health Care Providers (Key Terms)(W12)(AE37)

4/30-5/2...Issues in Bioethics (Key Terms)(W13)
----------Death with Dignigy National Center
----------A History of US Secret Human Experimentation
----------------(Also see Box 10.1, pp. 306-307)

A Call to Ivan Illich

The Future is David H. Kessel

Assignments and Instructions

Assignments Required of all Students (250 pts)


There will be five (5) Analysis Papers to write...worth 20 points each for total of 100 points. Go HERE for the topics.


There will be an "objective" quiz covering the Sociological Concepts, Weitz chapters 1-4, and Required Articles from Annual Editions. It will be worth 50 points. The QUIZ can be found HERE


This will be a comprehensive take-home essay exam worth 100 points. The exam can be found HERE

Assignments for Student-Selection (250 pts)
See BELOW for Instructions

ARTICLE REVIEW: You can sociologically review an Article from the Annual Editions Reader...worth either 50 points or 100 points. INSTRUCTIONS for the 50 point one are HERE...and for the 100 point one HERE.

MOVIE REVIEW (Entertainment movie): You can sociologically review any entertainment movie pertaining to some aspect of our course...worth 100 pts. Movie list of possible selections is HERE. INSTRUCTIONS/GUIDELINES are HERE.

MOVIE REVIEW (Documentary): You can select any documentary relevant to our course material for sociological review...worth 50 points. INSTRUCTIONS/GUIDELINES are HERE. Some SUGGESTED documentaries (from the author of our textbook) are HERE

BOOK REPORT: This is an assignment which allows you to read and report on any book (fiction or nonfiction) related to our course material...worth 100 pts. If you need help selecting a book, ask me. INSTRUCTIONS are HERE.

INTERNET ASSIGNMENT: This is an assignment which asks you to explore the Internet for sites/articles related to the various subjects/issues we are covering...worth either 50 points or 100 pts. INSTRUCTIONS for the 100 point are HERE...and for the 50 point HERE

INTERNET RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT: This is an assignment asking you to research a topic utilizing only the Internet...worth 100 pts...on a topic relevant to our course. Instructions are HERE.

INTERVIEW PROJECT: This assignment asks you to interview either one (for 50 points) or two (for 100 points) participants in our Health Care System. "Participant" can mean a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, hospital personnel, etc. It can also mean a patient with fairly extensive experience. Instructions/Suggestions/Guidelines are HERE

There are 500 points available in this course. You have 250 points worth of REQUIRED assignments…everyone must do these. The other 250 points consist of student- selected assignments---you may pick the ones you want---just so they total 250 points. Both the Required and Selected Assignments have Due Dates, as indicated online. You may want to factor these Dates into your decisions.

Two of your choices are an either/or choice. These are the Internet Assignment and the Internet Research Assignment…each worth 100 points. Although you don’t have to pick either of them, if you do pick one of them, you cannot pick the other one. Otherwise, you are free to compile your total of 250 points with any combination of assignments you desire.

Specific Instructions for each assignment are above---please follow the format called for in each.

I will need your selections next week by the 17th (Weds)...either via email or in writing in class. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Once you turn in your selections, they are final. If I don’t get them by next week, I’ll make them for you...but I don’t want to do that, so please give this your attention right away.

Due Dates


1/17----------Analysis Paper #1 Due
1/31----------Article Review Due
2/05----------Analysis Paper #2 Due
2/14----------Movie Review-Documentary Due
2/26----------Mid-Term Quiz
3/07----------Book Report Due
3/21----------Movie Review-Entertainment Due
3/26----------Analysis Paper #3 Due
4/04----------Internet Assignment or Internet Research Assignment Due
4/16----------Analysis Paper #4 Due
4/25----------Interview Project Due
4/30----------Analysis Paper #5 Due 5/02----------PASS OUT FINAL EXAM IN CLASS
5/09----------Final Exam---12:30-2:30 Due (I think...will check)

Summary of Points in the Course

100 Points........Analysis Papers
50 Points..........Mid-Term Quiz
100 Points........Final Exam
250 Points........Student Selected Assignments

500 Points........Total

Analysis Paper Topics

Analysis Paper #1

As we begin our study of the Sociology of Health and Illness, I'd like you to read and respond to the following short excerpt by Ivan Illich...Health as a Virtue...from his book Medical Nemesis. "Respond" means to analyze what he says and why. It means to provide perspective on his ideas and to relate them to your own thoughts about "health and illness" that you bring into the course. As I brought up on the first day of class, is health the absence of illness? What is Illich's perspective on that question? What is yours? You may go any direction you want in your thoughts.

(Note: Don't make this harder than it don't have to be "perfect" in your answers. I'm far more interested in what you think than you being "right or wrong." I value speculation far more than a right or perfect response. I put more stress on the process of thinking than on the final "product.")

Analysis Paper #2

On pp. 44-45 of our text (in Box 2.3) there is an "Ethical Debate" concerning Drug Testing in Schools and Workplaces. This is, as you know, an ongoing, current issue in our society...which touches the core of individual privacy...with fervent views on all sides of the issue. I'd like to know where you stand on the issue and why. You may, of course, refer to personal experiences (or ones well known by you)...with confidentiality assured. You don't necessarily have to choose a "side" fact, maybe portraying it using "sides" is too limited a way to frame the issue, eh? At the end of Box 2.3 there are some "Sociological Questions" which might inform and guide your perspective. Do some critical analysis rather than just declare your point of view. We've been studying some "tools" to help you do just that. For example, why is it only illegal drugs are tested if legal drugs can't have an effect on job performance?

Analysis Paper #3

On pages 197 & 198 of our textbook, there's a brief description of a famous (or infamous...depending on who is doing the speaking) Participant Observation by David Rosenhan and associates. This was done in 1973 when Rosenhan had 12 "sane" people admit themselves to a variety of mental hospitals to see if there was a "problem with psychiatric diagnosis."

Listed under "Schedule of Topics and Readings" in our SOC 330 room you will find a link to a short article by Rosenhan entitled "Notes of Being Sane in Insane Places. Here's a link to it: Notes

For the full article Rosenhan wrote...go HERE (Notice this is a pdf you'll need Adobe Acrobat on your computer to access it.

Read this material and analyze the P.O. What did it "prove" (or maybe it's better to ask...what did it falsify?)? What does it say sociologically about structural definitions of the situation (i.e. institutions on the Meso level) leading the "diagnosis"? Some critics have called his research "pseudoscience" and others have heavily critiqued his methodology. Still others have found the study to be very revealing. What do you think? Of course, you can raise and answer any number of questions about it...whatever you choose to address.

You can find other websites about Rosenhan's work...just go "googling" and see what you find.

Analysis Paper #4

On pages 306-307...Box 10.1 consists of the "Ethical Debate: A Right to Die." We can certainly agree that this is a hotly debated topic with a variety of perspectives on it. The issue is well laid out in Box 10.1, but you may want to look up sites which deal with either side of it. I've included in our readings a link to the "Death with Dignity National Center"...a direct link to it is HERE.

Although you can handle this any way you want, a suggestion is to make an argument for both sides...without commentary from you...and then portray your own view, but that's just a suggestion

Analysis Paper #5

The topic for this last Analysis Paper (#5) is....YOU. I'd like you to evaluate yourself in the course. However, this isn't about's about learning and effort. Likewise, this isn't about me or the course, per se. I often get mentioned in this kind of paper, but I'm NOT the point...YOU are. So, how did you do...what was the process like for you? How well or not well did you "apply" yourself? Did the structure of the assignments suit you...and in retrospect, what might you have done differently with these assignments? How did you handle an overtly critical perspective about health and illness? Were you able to successfully "bracket" your values and perspectives...and if not, in what area(s) were you resistant to the bracketing and the material presented in the text and in class? In other words, talk about any aspect you desire...there's certainly no right or wrong about your response.

So, step back from yourself and take a look. Do you feel differently about the variety of issues in "health and illness?" And I mentioned in class..."...that only when the necessity to please others is removed, can the main job of SELF-evaluation begin."

What You'll Need for SOC 330

& SOC 330

You are going to need access to a Computer for this course with access to The Internet. Whether its your own computer or one in a Lab or a friend's computer or one at a Library, they're not that difficult to find these days.

That also means you'll need to learn a basic minimum of skills in navigating The Internet. It's a tool that's quickly become necessity in today's world especially as it relates to academics. If you have no experience in doing this, there's plenty of help available especially at LCC and on the Web itself. I've put a link in the Menu to a "beginners" tutorial. Then there's me. I'll help as much as I can. So don't panic if you're in this category, it will be okay.

You will need an EMAIL Address for this course...if you don't have one, please get one ASAP...I can help if you need it...then email ME with your name so I have it accurately.

Finally, The Sociology Shop, my own website, is essential for this course. We have our own "room" in TSS, the SOC 330 Room (the Room you're in NOW) where you'll find links to the stuff I mentioned above. There's also other rooms which you may find helpful. I will help you become familiar with TSS and how to access information, especially in our classroom.


Chapter 2
-----Fooling with Nature
-----A Closer Walk
-----Supersize Me
-----Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge (6 part series)

Chapter 3
-----Defending Our Lives
-----Is it a Boy or a Girl?
-----Libby, Montana
-----Borderline Cases
-----The Split Horn

Chapter 4
-----Democratic Allsorts
-----The Visionaries
-----The Day I Will Never Forget

Chapter 5
-----Conceiving the Future
-----Medicating Kids
-----Gene Blues
-----Selling Sickness: An Ill for Every Pill
-----Sound and Fury

Chapter 6
-----Illness and Disability
-----The Alternative Fix
-----How's Your News?

Chapter 7
-----Disordered States
-----To Define True Madness
-----Out of Sight
-----The Talking Cure
-----In Two Minds
-----Healthcare Casualties
-----The New Asylums

Chapter 8
-----The High Price of Health
-----World-Class Healthcare
-----ERs in Crisis

Chapter 9
-----Borderline Medicine
-----Physicians for a National Health Program
----------Powerpoint download from

Chapter 10
-----Choosing Death
-----To Care: A Portrait of Three Older Caregivers
-----Elder Care: The Swedish Choice
-----Temple of Science

Chapter 11
-----Women in Medicine
-----The Code of Silence
-----Life Support
-----Magic Bullet
-----Random Cuts
-----So You Want To Be a Doctor

Chapter 12
-----A Midwife's Tale
-----Mystery of Chi
-----Inventing Reality
-----Alternative Medicine
-----Sentimental Women Need Not Apply

Chapter 13
-----In the Middle of the End
-----A Death of One's Own
-----The Deadly Deception

SOC 330 Take-Home Quiz"

Copy and Paste into a blank document before printing!!

Sociology 330
Health and Illness
Spring 2007
Idaho State University
David H. Kessel
Take-Home Quiz

TRUE OR FALSE (2 pts each = 20 Points)

Write a short paragraph (2-4 sentences) explaining WHY each question is T or F (as indicated in parentheses following the question)

1. There is never a time when we’re NOT in a “social relation” with others. (T)

2. The primary characteristic of “paradigms“…which makes them questionable as accurate portrayals of reality…is that they are limited and partial views of that reality. (T)

3. As a tool of critically understanding social reality, “presupposing” refers to asking about the various conditions which make something possible and understandable. (T)

4. The three “levels of analysis/reality” (micro-meso-macro) are completely separate and unconnected to each other…and should be studied that way. (F)

5. The primary purpose of benefit of “bracketing” one’s values in an educational setting (or anywhere else for that matter) is that it keeps them safe and sound and free from critique and any change. (F)

6. The “sociology IN medicine” refers to the study of how social factors affect health, illness, and health care, raising questions that sociologists, but not necessarily doctors, consider important. (F)

7. As defined in our textbook, “disease” and “illness” are essentially the same thing (i.e. there is no distinction between them). (F)

8. A critical/radical sociological perspective would utilize “Health Lifestyle Theory” (as opposed to the “Health Belief Model”) because it emphasizes social structure as well as personal agency. (T)

9. The percentage of people living in the U.S. who have diabetes (for example) is best referred to at the “incidence” of diabetes. (F)

10. The “epidemiological transition” refers to the shift FROM chronic disease TO infectious diseases. (F)

SHORT ESSAY (Pick 10 at 3 points each = 30 Points)


1. What different questions might a doctor, a psychologist, and a sociologist ask about the causes of caner?

2. How (in what ways) does “power” affect health care delivery in the U.S.?

3. As they have been defined in this class, write a short paragraph using/connecting the following concepts: Critical---Radical---Presupposing---Obvious.

4. Distinguish between “epidemiology” and “social epidemiology.”

5. The textbook defines “role strain” as a major source of chronic stress…WHY/HOW?

6. What is meant by “manufacturers of illness.” Give some examples.

7. Of the four main social factors that affect the nature of illnesses in the U.S. (age, sex and gender, social class, and race or ethnicity), which one does your text maintain is the most significant in terms of mortality & morbidity? WHY?

8. How can we account for the fact that makes have higher rates of mortality (& fatal diseases) and females have higher rates of morbidity (& non-fatal diseases)?

9. What is the compelling link between poverty and illness…does “illness cause poverty” (Social Drift) or does “poverty cause illness?”

10. Explain the difference between saying “race or ethnicity” is a direct cause of disease…and…saying “racism” leads to more disease among African Americans.

11. Explain the connection between “environmental racism” and “internal colonialism.”

12. Explain the difference between “tertiary prevention, “secondary prevention,” and “primary prevention.”

13. Explain what the author of our text means when she says…“In essence, then, malnutrition is a disease of powerlessness.”

14. Explain: Both ownership and poverty are “social relations” between people…what are some implications of understanding this?

15. Life Expectancy isn’t so much a lack of sufficient resources to meet basic health needs…as is the income inequality (gap between wealthy and poor) in a given society.

SOC 330 Take-Home Final Exam

Sociology 330
Idaho State University
Spring 2007
David H. Kessel
Final Exam

I would like for you to pick...from the text (whether or not covered in class), lectures, movie, completed assignments, and other readings...five (5) big, major, or important issues in Health and Illness. I'm not just talking about "key terms" (although a selection may involve one or more of them). Rather, think bigger than that. We've covered and discussed a wide range of issues this semester...some consistently appearing regardless of the chapter/lecture topics.

So, what issues, to you, are the most important or pervasive? You can do each of the five can integrate them into one larger essay. Either way...explain what the issue is about (give me some "facts" about it)...and then why you selected the issue. What makes it a transcending "biggy"...and what connection(s) does it have with other ideas in the course?

This type of exam gives you the opportunity to tell me "what you know" from our class. It will also require some review and some serious thinkig...and selection. I expect a concerted and serious effort...if for no other reason than the exam is worth a full 100 points!

Thank-you for your efforts