Sample Syllabus

The U.S. Healthcare system is exceptional in many ways. Compared to other Western industrialized nations, the U.S. system has historically lacked universal healthcare, has paid more and received less care, and has the highest proportion of its population uninsured. Certain aspects of care have been highly politicized in the U.S. as medicine has become a battleground of ongoing culture wars. This class critically examines the U.S. healthcare system by focusing on health policies, practices, and outcomes from a social constructionist standpoint. We will consider how illness and diagnosis has been socially constructed, the negotiation of professional power and inter-professional dynamics in organizational settings, the processes of healthcare delivery, how certain forms of care have become politicized, challenges accessing care for individuals with stigmatized conditions, and how social movement organizations have attempted to make change through collective action. In doing so, we will consider how medical sociology intersects with an array of sociological subfields and the implications of contemporary approaches to healthcare for persistent social inequalities.        

topics covered

Health Social Movements
Negotiated Order
Professional Power
Healthcare Rationing
Social Construction of Diagnosis
Social Construction of Illness
Social Control
The Affordable Care Act
The "Sick Role"