College of DuPage

Sociology 2251

Health and Illness in Contemporary Society

medical symbol Are you interested in exploring how health and illness both influence and are influenced by society?

Would you like to evaluate the statuses and roles of health care professionals?

Do you want to examine the factors that have contributed to the high cost of health care and debate the values in our health care delivery "system"?

Then this class is for you.

Course Description

This course examines illness as a phenomenon, which both influences and is influenced by society. As such, it can be viewed as a form of social deviance, which patients, healers, and the larger society attempt to reduce. Perspectives provided by theory and research in the sociology of deviance, occupations, and complex organizations are employed to gain an understanding of health and illness behavior, health practitioners, and health institutions.
Prerequisite: This course requires Reading Placement Test Score-Category One
Credit Hours: 3.0

General Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course the student should be able to do the following:

  1. Recognize the ways sociology contributes to our knowledge of health and illness and how the health care field can be used to illustrate sociological concepts
  2. Identify illness as a phenomenon, which both influences and is influenced by society
  3. Describe the sick role and the consequences of labeling certain physical and mental illnesses in the context of cultural norms
  4. Recognize the manner by which society and health institutions treat illness as "deviant" and the effects this has on heath care workers, institutions, and the population in general
  5. Evaluate the statuses and roles of "doctor" and "nurse", with emphasis on professional identities, relationships, performances, and acceptance into the health care system; this includes paying attention to the 'professional dominance' of the physician in relation to other health workers and the larger society and the resulting "medicalization" process
  6. Compare and contrast the role of allopathic and alternative medicine in organizing both physical and mental health
  7. Recognize factors that have contributed to the high costs of health care, including hospital costs, medical fees, and social insurance programs with an emphasis on health care related political issues in the United States
  8. Debate the values in our health care delivery "system" and their manifestations on the planning and the allocation of resources, as well as on issues of "right to health" and "right to health care"
  9. Describe current bio-medical and genetic engineering research areas and their social and ethical significance
  10. Apply sociological knowledge to the investigation of a topic of interest to the student in an individual research project that may relate to one's own health-illness behavior

The Online Format

This course is not self-paced. There are deadlines for assignments throughout the semester.


For more information about the Sociology Program and degree programs at College of DuPage, refer to the Sociology website.


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