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1. Medical Sociology and Sociological Theory

William C. Cockerham


Subject Sociology of Health, Aging, and Medicine » Medical Sociology

Key-Topics health

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405122665.2004.00003.x


Extract

The link between medical sociology and sociological theory is crucial to the subdiscipline. Theory binds medical sociology to the larger discipline of sociology more extensively than any other aspect of the sociological enterprise. Theory is also what usually distinguishes research in medical sociology from socially-oriented studies in allied fields, like public health and health services research. Whereas seminal sociological contributions in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, along with many fundamental concepts on social behavior, have been subsumed by multidisciplinary approaches in several fields, sociological theory allows medical sociology to remain unique among the health-related social and behavioral sciences. This could be considered as a somewhat surprising statement because medical sociology has often been described in the past as atheoretical. It is true that much of the work in the field historically has been applied, intended to help solve a clinical problem or policy issue, rather than develop theory or utilize it as a tool to further understanding. Medical sociology was not established until after World War II when the American government provided extensive funding through the National Institutes of Health for joint sociological and medical research projects. The same situation prevailed in western Europe, where, unlike in the United States, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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