Medical sociology

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Medical sociology is a branch of sociology . It deals scientifically with the role and importance that illness and health have in society and the forms and consequences of their social treatment. In practice, medical sociology is an interdisciplinary field between sociology and medicine . The medical sociology , however, is primarily a branch of medicine as a subject and as a practice, often it is also called social medicine called. Medical content is more problematic in medical sociology than is usual in sociology.


Already in the constitutional phase of the subject in the 1950s, a distinction was made between a sociology in medicine and a sociology in medicine.

Medical sociology as the sociology of medicine is interested in:

  • on the micro level for individual and collective forms of orientation and rationalities of action (e.g. perception of illness, risk behavior),
  • at the meso level for the organizational and network forms of social treatment of illness and health (e.g. hospital structures, forms of cooperation in the event of epidemics),
  • at the macro level for social structures, institutions and design options (e.g. health system , social and health inequality).

The sociology in medicine is based on a bio-psycho-social model of disease. In this perspective, health and illness refer not only to the function or malfunction of the body, but are also a phenomenon of the individual state of mind. Health and illness are understood as phenomena that can be defined in different frames of reference that arise from a psychological , a medical and a sociological perspective.

History and development of the subject

Research that would be called medical sociology or medical sociology today already existed before these subjects were institutionalized. It developed at the end of the 19th century from the observation that social conditions and environmental influences are of major importance for the development of diseases. The connection between social situation and health during the industrial revolution was discussed by doctors like Rudolf Virchow or philosophers and social theorists like Friedrich Engels . Engels' study of the situation of the working class in England is considered to be one of the early medical sociological studies.

The medical sociology as an independent special sociology emerged in 1951 with a publication by Talcott Parsons : it is about chapter ten in his book The Social System. This chapter appeared in German in special volume 3 of the Cologne journal for sociology and social psychology , which emerged from a conference specifically on medical-sociological questions and topics in Cologne in 1958.

Medical sociology was institutionalized in the 1970s. A section of medical sociology has existed in the USA since 1960 in the American Sociological Association . The German Society for Sociology has had a Medical Sociology Section since 1970, which was renamed the Medical and Health Sociology Section in 2000/2001. The German Society for Medical Sociology (DGMS) has also existed since 1972. Medical sociology became part of medical studies in 1970 as part of the subject group Psychosocial Medicine.

The sociology of health has developed from the medical sociology of the 1950s to 1980s in Germany ( Johann Jürgen Rohde , Wolfgang Schoene ) . This can be traced back to a change of perspective beginning in the late 1980s, which combined health with terms such as public health and salutogenesis .


Monographs and Articles

  • Bernhard Borgetto, Bernhard Mann , Christian Janßen: Sociological theories in medical-sociological health care research. In: Christian Janßen, Bernhard Borgetto, Günther Heller (eds.): Medical sociological care research. Theoretical approaches, methods, instruments and empirical findings. Juventa, Weinheim / Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-7799-1148-7 .
  • Uta Gerhardt : Ideas about illness. An intellectual and political history of medical sociology. New York University Press, New York, NY 1989.
  • Uta Gerhardt: Health and Society. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / Main 1991.
  • Alexander Schuller , N. Heim, G. Halusa (Ed.): Medical sociology. A study book. Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 1992.
  • Johannes Siegrist : Medical Sociology. Urban and Schwarzenberg, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-541-06385-8 .
  • Alf Trojan, Hanneli Dohner (Hrsg.): Society, health, medicine - explorations, analyzes and results. Mabuse, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-935964-01-3 .
  • Gunnar Stollberg: Medical Sociology Transcript, Bielefeld 2001
  • Claus Wendt, Christof Wolf (ed.): Sociology of health. In: Cologne journal for sociology and social psychology. Special issues Volume 46. VS, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-15296-3 .
  • Irving Kenneth Zola : Medicine as an institution of social control. In: Sociological Review. No. 4, 1972, pp. 487-504.


  • Sociology of Health & Illness.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Matthias Richter: Medicine and Health Sociology . In: Endruweit, G, Trommsdorff, G & Burzan, N (Ed.): Dictionary of Sociology . UTB-Verlag, Stuttgart, ISBN 978-3-8252-8566-1 , p. 287-293 .
  2. ^ Volker Roelcke : Medical sociology. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 957.
  3. ^ Christian von Ferber : Health and Society . Kohlhammer, Frankfurt 1971
  4. ^ Robert Straus: The Nature and Status of Medical Sociology . In: American Sociological Review 1957 (22), pp. 200-204.
  5. Renè König: Problems of the medical sociology . In: Renè König and Margret Toennesmann (eds.): Problems of medical sociology. Cologne Journal for Sociology and Social Psychiatry 1958 Sonderhaft 3, pp. 1–9.
  6. ^ Sigrid Graumann and Gesa Lindemann: Medical sociology. In: Georg Kneer and Markus Schroer (eds.): Handbook of special sociologies. 2010 VS Verlag., Pp. 295-307.
  7. ^ Friedrich Engels: The situation of the working class in England . In: Karl Mara and Friedrich Engels: Works, Volume 2. Dietz. Berlin / GDR 1962/1845:. Pp. 225-506
  8. ^ Gunnar Stollberg: Medizinsoziologie Transcript, Bielefeld 2001, p. 9
  9. ^ Talcott Parsons: The Social System Free Press, New York, London
  10. ^ Talcott Parsons: Structure and function of modern medicine In: René König and Margret Tönnismann (eds.): Problems of medical sociology Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1958, pp. 10–57
  11. ^ Maximiliane Wilkesmann: Knowledge transfer in the hospital . VS publishing house for social sciences. Wiesbaden 2001, p. 50
  12. ^ German Society for Medical Sociology
  13. ^ Gunnar Stollberg: Medical sociology . transcript. Bielefeld 2001, p. 9