Chapter 13 Study Questions & Exercises

Health and Medicine

Study Questions

  1. What is medical sociology? What are its principal goals? Describe in which ways it draws on principles of public and critical sociology.
  1. What are the four expectations attached to Talcott Parson’s sick role? What are the critiques of and additions to Parsons’s sick role?
  1. What are the differences between biomedicine and alternative medicine? Give examples of both.
  1. Define medicalization and outline its central characteristics.
  1. What are some major drawbacks of medicalization? Draw on the work of Ivan Illich and the example of Big Pharma in your answer.
  1. Briefly describe the four major factors shaping the shortage of doctors in Canada?
  2. What does racializing a disease entail? Provide an example of a racialized diseases.
  1. Describe the processes through which a condition such as obesity or PTSD become com-medicalized and modified?
  1. How is access to the jobs in medical professions gendered? Think of both doctors and nurses. Next discuss how gender and “race” and ethnicity intersect here.
  1. How does social class affect health and healthcare, both in terms of access to medical care and access to medical professions?

Exploration and Discussion Exercises

  1. Visit the World Health Organization’s page on Canada at and read about the nation’s health concerns. Then choose a few other countries from the site’s home page and read about instances of outbreaks, crises, mortality, burden of disease, health service coverage, risk factors, and health systems. If you’re interested in helping people and want to volunteer or work abroad, check out these organizations:
  1. Why is there resistance from some of the public and certain politicians to nationalizing healthcare in the United States? What factors account for this resistance? You can begin your research by watching news broadcasts and reading the articles at the following URLS:
  1. Investigate why Big Pharma blocks efforts by international companies to develop cheaper generic drugs, vaccines