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Social Construction and Health

Chapter

Abstract

Social construction represents a major theme in sociology. Ever since Berger and Luckman (1967) suggested that some of our most taken-for-granted assumptions about society are embedded in specific “realities”, sociologists, across the board, have been interested in such processes and applied them to a wide array of topics. Social constructs are viewed as the by-products of countless human choices, rather than laws that result from divine will or nature. This approach stands in contrast to essentialism that considers specific phenomena as inherent and transhistorical essences independent of human actions and decisions (Burr 1995). The theoretical contributions of medical sociologists within this perspective are shaped by the development of medical sociology itself. Early on, Strauss (1957) pointed out the inherent tension between sociologists in medicine and sociologists of medicine. The former generally collaborate closely with medical doctors to solve practical problems in medicine, but the latter are committed to use issues of health, illness, and healing as a window to help us understand larger sociological questions. Increasingly, sociologists are interested in questions that simultaneously advance sociological theory and have implications for the well-being of populations and individuals. Not surprisingly, these questions often center on how social and cultural factors matter for the way in which we understand and respond to biological processes.

Keywords

Mental Illness Mental Health Problem Social Construction Medical Knowledge Cultural Meaning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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