The Sociology of Health and Illness

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Polity, Jul 4, 2006 - Social Science - 308 pages
Thoroughly revised and fully updated, the second edition of Sarah Nettleton’s book will prove invaluable to anyone looking for a clear and accessible introduction to key contemporary debates within the sociology of health and illness. The book builds on the first edition’s success, integrating the core tenets of traditional medical sociology with some fresh insights from the current literature. New material is found throughout , including discussions of the new genetics, food and eating, e-health, the MMR debate, embryo stem cell research, recent approaches to health inequalities, and the health implications of the information age. Carefully annotated suggested further readings have been added to each chapter, to help extend students’ learning and thinking.

The book aims to provide students with a thorough grounding in the area of the sociology of health and illness. As such it covers a diversity of topics and draws on a wide range of analytic approaches. The text spans issues such as the social construction of medical knowledge, the analysis of lay health knowledge and beliefs, concepts of lifestyles and risk, the experience of illness and the sociology of the body. It also explores matters which are central to health policy, such as professional-patient relationships, health inequalities and the changing nature of health care work. A central theme which runs throughout the book is that we are moving towards a new paradigm of health and health care, one in which people are no longer passive recipients of treatment when they are ill, but are active participants in the maintenance of their own health. This is reflected in contemporary health policy which emphasizes health promotion, community health care and consumerism.

The book is written primarily for students of thte social sciences who opt to study the field of health and illness in greater depth, but will also appeal to students taking vocational degrees requiring a sociological grounding in the area.


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Thank you Sarah. This book has helped me a lot with writing my Sociology in Sport, Health and the Body Essay in which I have used and referenced a lot your work. This has given me a wider understanding of sociology and I can now say I understand what it means and a variety of aspects which are encountered throughout the book!
Thank you again,
P.S. You have now made me very interested in the topic and I have now changed a unit in which I did not pick for my next semester! :D


The Social Construction of Medical Knowledge p
Lay Health Beliefs Lifestyles and Risk p
The Experience of Chronic Illness and Disability p
The Sociology of the Body p
The Sociology of LayProfessional Interactions p
Social Inequalities and Health Status p
Late Modernism and the Changing Social Relations
Sociological Analyses of Contemporary
Bibliography p
Index p

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About the author (2006)

Sarah Nettleton is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of York.

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