Introducation to sociology for health carers by Mark Walsh

By Mark Walsh

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Qxd 9/7/11 3:25 PM Page 40 Introduction to sociology for health carers Recently discovered and vanished ‘diseases’ Recently discovered ‘diseases’ ‘Addictive personality’ Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Compulsive shopping disorder Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy ‘Diseases’ that have disappeared Female hysteria Masturbatory insanity Homosexuality Sociological critics of biomedicine have also noted that there are wholesale differences between the health belief models and treatment approaches of Western and non-Western societies.

Case study conclusions or make judgements about social ‘reality’. The simple reason for this is that people who use a naturalistic approach believe that it is not possible to apply ‘scientific’ standards and expectations to the social world because social phenomena are less predictable and uniform than chemical elements or biological processes. Naturalistic sociologists are interested in the real meaning of human behaviour and relationships. As a result, they tend to use data collection methods such as participant observation and unstructured in-depth interviews, which allow them to gain access to a wide variety of non-numerical, qualitative data.

The contribution of the medical model I have outlined a number of ways in which medical knowledge and power have been questioned. Clearly, there are grounds for doubting that medicine can deliver ‘health’ for all in a simple, curative way. Nevertheless, given the power and importance of medicine, it is worth making the point that medical knowledge and medical practitioners do have an important role to play in developing physical treatments for identifiable biological ‘diseases’ and disorders. Pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions are now very sophisticated, and can improve and prolong a person’s life in a situation in which 100 years ago they would have died or suffered much more.

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