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Medicine, Health and Society

Medicine, Health and Society

February 2012 | 200 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This book provides a contemporary account of why medical sociology matters in our modern society. Combining theoretical and empirical perspectives, and applying the pragmatic demands of policy, this Hannah Bradby explores society's response to key issues such as race, gender and identity to explain the relationship between sociology, medicine and medical sociology.

Each chapter includes an authoritative introduction to pertinent areas of debate, a clear summary of key issues and themes and dedicated bibliography.


Prologue: Sociology, Medicine and Medical Sociology

Medical Sociology and Its Relationship with Sociology

Theory and Application

Sociology and Medicine

Interdisciplinarity and Multidisciplinarity


Introducing the Sociology of Medicine, Health and Society
Social Theory and the Sociology of Health and Medicine

Parsons and Functionalism

Criticism of Parsons' Idealized Type

Theories of Conflict and Political Economy

Inequalities and Social Stratification



Modernity and Post-Modernity

Social Constructionism

Post-Structuralism and Structuralism

Criticism of Constructionism



Health Inequalities

Theory and Inequality

Inequity and Inequality

Measurement of Inequality

The Pattern of Health Inequalities

Causes of Inequalities

Healthcare and Inequalities

Global Inequality


Women, Gender and Feminism


Gendered Visibility

Gendered Polarity and Theorizing Difference

Reconceptualizing Gender

Undoing Polarities

Health Inequalities

Morbidity, Gender and the Effect of Work



Ethnicity, Racism and Difference

Background - UK

Background - USA

Sociology of Race Relations

Ethnicity and Health Inequalities

Mental Health



Bodies, Pain and Suffering

The Sociological Body

Dissecting the Body

Cultural Bodies

Biotechnological Bodies


Bodies and Disabilities

Bodies and Narrative

Mute Bodies

Meta-Narrative and Suffering



The Workings of Medicine


Medicine's Golden Age

Medical Power

Medical Imperialism

Proletarianization, Deprofessionalization and Corporatization

Challenging Medicine: Efficacy, Efficiency, Accessibility

Efficacy, Equity and Efficiency

Managers, Managerialism and Markets

Challenging Equity

Has the NHS Improved?

The Doctor-Patient Relationship in a Regulatory Framework

The Legal Challenge

Consumerism in Medicine


Alternative Medical Practitioners

Medical Tourism

Medicalization in a Digital Era




The Practice of Medicine

Medical Encounters


Ethics and Expectations of Biotechnological Innovation

The Culture of Bioethics

Global Health

Medical Migration

Global Suffering and Sociology



Glossary of Terms


In this timely book, Hannah Bradby brings together classic sociological writings and the latest research on the links between medicine, health and society. Bradby discusses a range of important issues with three main themes: patterns of illness in populations, health and illness in everyday life, and the promise and pitfalls of modern health care systems. Bradby offers insightful analysis as well as synthesis in areas such as inequalities, gender and ethnicity, where she is a leading expert. Throughout the book, Bradby's command of her material is impressive, and expressed in an approachable and lively style. Highly commended - a key work for all students of medical sociology
Mike Bury
Professor Emeritus of Royal Holloway College

The book covers a wide range of topics within sociology and medicine. The book is split into chapters of different subjects, divided into segments with an introduction, critical discussions, a conclusion and references.
I would adopt this book for higher education study. It is a heavy textbook, without diagrams or pictures, these are not needed as the topics in the book are covered clearly and in detail.

Ms lisa oneill
Education, City College Norwich
March 27, 2023

An really interesting medical sociology text which chapters on the sociology of body and pain which I have recommended.

Dr Bethany Simmonds
Social, Historical & Literary Studies, Portsmouth University
August 21, 2016

a good supplemental text that is useful across levels, have recommended as extended reading

Miss Hannah Bethan Miles
HE CARE, Grimsby Institute of HE & FE
August 12, 2015

I have asked the students whom I teach at MSc level to consider reading this book as part of their supplementary reading. It is insightful and gives a public health point of view.

Miss Daljinder Virk
Department of Psychology, Coventry University
April 1, 2014

A really great introduction. Students are provided here with an accessible overview of the key issues in sociology of health and illness. Very well written and an invaluable resource - for students of sociology and social policy, it should also be read by health professionals in their training too.

Dr Sarah Nettleton
Department of Sociology, York University
February 11, 2014

The book is very good, but on inspection is not a good match for the student population on my course (biomedical science students in 3rd year). The book covers key topics we address in the course (eg. relating to the social organisation of medicine, including some sociology of health and illness), but from a more sociological perspective than is taken in other course materials. I also teach (selected sessions) on an MSc Public Health and Health Services Research module 'Health and Society', for which this book is likely to be a good source reference and will consider using this as a supplemental reading in the sessions coming up in March. It would be better suited to this student audience, at Masters level, than to undergrad biomedical science students.

Dr Tracy Finch
Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University
January 6, 2014

a well written textbook that fills a gap in provision so far for students to appreciate the connections between these fields

Mr Richard Kotter
Dept of Geography, Northumbria University
October 18, 2013

I found this a useful text for student midwives to have an introduction to sociology linked to medicine and health. It is well written and easy to understand and has relevant theories explained within it. The reading lists for each chapter give students further reading around the relevant topics.

Ms Mary Beadle
Department of Nursing & Midwifery, Hull University
April 15, 2013

An interesting, concise textbook which is ideal for students at all three levels, where they are looking for supporting material for their arguments.

Mrs Carolyn Gibbon
School of Health and Postgrad Medicine, University of Central Lancashire
February 21, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter Two

Hannah Bradby

Hannah Bradby’s research on how ethnicity and racism intervene in the social relations of health has been published in various journals including ‘Social Science and Medicine’ and ‘Sociological Research Online’. She co-edits the journal ‘Ethnicity and Health’ and is the ‘Sociology of Health and Illness’ monograph series editor. Hannah has taught both medics and... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412920742
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