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[SI0202] - The Body, Health and Medicine

Module Code: SI0210
Module Leader: Sara MacBride-Stewart
Year: 2
Semester: Both
Number of Credits: 20

Teaching Method: Lectures and seminars.
Assessment: Coursework (essays) 3500 words (50%) - Autumn Semester; Written examination 2 hours (50%) - Spring Semester
Degree Schemes: Social Science, Sociology, BPS Social Science

Module Aims

This course introduces students to key ideas and research on the body and the relationship between health, medicine and society. The unit

  • i)  Examines the main themes and issues in the sociology of the body and embodiment as these pertain to the social study of health, illness and medicine.
  • ii) Prepares students for a range of cognate specialised Level 3 modules

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Comprehension

  • Outline key issues and themes in the social study of the body, health and medicine.
  • Identify key research studies pertaining to the social study of the body, health and medicine.

Skills (Application and Analysis)

  • Relate key ideas in the social study of the body, health and medicine to the analysis of:
    • Healthcare organization, policy and practice
    • The construction of social identity
    • The experience of disease and disability.
  • Use research and theory on the body, health and medicine to explore and analyse the distribution of health and illness across social groups

Understanding (Synthesis and Evaluation)

  • Discuss different theories of the body and embodiment and evaluate their significance for understanding identity, and the experience of illness and disability.
  • Evaluate medical knowledge practices and health care organization, policy and practice from the perspective of theories of embodiment and the body.

Transferable Skills

The module will contribute to the development of the following transferable skills:

  • Search skills, writing skills, and skills in written presentation.
  • Application of theory and research to practical disciplines.
  • Analysis of theories, research and policy.
  • Evaluation of the status of knowledge produced by different research methodologies.

Synopsis of Module Content

This course explores the social and cultural aspects of illness and wellness, health care organization and medicine, using the concept of the body and embodiment to explore these issues.

We explore how theorists in medical sociology and anthropology and feminist theory have conceived of the body in everyday life and the place of the body in being a person, and in social relations and forms of social order.

We examine how medicine constitutes the body, and notions of normal/abnormal and natural/unnatural bodies, the consequences of thinking the body as a biomedical entity, for health care, for the division of health care labour and for people.

We explore people’s understandings and experiences and the social consequences of illness and disability for some people, including older people and people with chronic conditions, in terms of identity, social relations conceptions of self and social ex/inclusion.

We examine political and cultural changes and innovations in health and medicine to explore how modernizing technologies have reshaped the body and how medical practices reproduce or reorganize bodily norms.

We consider how illness is lived and how the materiality of  illness connects us to and disrupts our social and bodily selves. Effectively we consider how disease is ‘done’ and through it, how we also ‘do’ our bodies.

Opportunities for Summative Assessment

At the end of the Autumn Semester students will be asked to do 2500 word essay, which will contribute only 20% to the summative assessment.

Arrangements for Feedback on Work

Coursework will be assessed and diagnostic feedback given, either verbally or in writing. Generic & individual feedback given on the end of year exam.

Indicative Reading

Core Texts

Blackman, L. (2008). The Body. Berg: Oxford.

Clarke, A., Mamo, L., Fosket, J.R., Fishman, J.R., & Shim, J.K. (2010). Biomedicalization: Technoscience, Health and Illness in the U.S. Durham & London; Duke University Press.

Fraser M. & Greco M. (eds.) (2005) The Body: A Reader.  London: Routledge.

Shilling, C. (ed.) (2007) Embodying Sociology. Sociological Review Monograph. Oxford: Blackwell.

Latimer, J., & Schillmeier, M. (2009) Un/Knowing Bodies. Sociological Review Monograph Series. Oxford: Blackwell.


Additional Reading

Annandale, E., Elston, M.A. & Prior, L (eds) (2004). Medical work, medical knowledge and health care. Oxford: Blackwell.

Blaxter, M. (2004) Health. Cambridge: Polity Bury M. and Gabe J. (eds.) (2004). The Sociology of Health and Illness: A Reader. London: Routledge.

Gabe, J., Bury M. and Elston, M-A (Eds.) (2004)  Key Concepts in Medical Sociology, London: Sage

Davey, B., Gray, A., and Seale C. (2002)  Health and Disease: a Reader (third edition). Buckingham: Open University Press.

Mol, A. (2002). The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice. Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Mol, A (2008). The Logic of Care: Health and the problem of patient choice. London: Routledge.

Nettleton, S. (1995) The Sociology of Health and Illness, Cambridge: Polity.

Scambler, G. (2003)  Sociology as Applied to Medicine (5th Edition) London: Saunders