Sociology | Social Problems & Policies
S101 | 3846 | Takeuchi


S101 Social Problems & Policies (3 CR)
Topic:  Health & Illness in American Society
3846 9:30-10:45  MW BH347
Takeuchi

The United States has the costliest health care system in
the world yet it is criticized for its failure to cure
society's ills such as cancer, heart disease and AIDS.  When
people do get sick, many do not have the financial means to pay
for needed services or they may be receiving inferior care
because of their inability to pay for more effective but costly
treatment.  All of these issues deal with health and medical
care that all of us experience in one form or another.

This course explores basic questions about a wide range of
topics dealing with the providers of care, the recipients of
care, and the larger context of health, illness, and disease.
What is health?  What is illness?  Who is most likely to get
ill?  How is race, ethnicity, and social class related to the
experience of illness?  How do people seek care and what
factors lead some to see a doctor soon after experiencing
symptoms while others wait until they must seek emergency
services?  What are "alternative" medical system and who uses
such treatment as acupuncture, chiropractic, and homeopathy.
How do physicians decide who shall live and who shall die?

The course considers two parallel themes as we discuss the
provision of medical treatment and health services: (a) what
are the basic assumptions about the essential societal
functions of medical treatment and health services and (b) what
are the basic purposes and scope of services for the
individual.  The importance of clarifying the basic purposes of
health services is highlighted by questions such as what
constitutes "appropriate service use" and "positive" medical
outcomes-is fundamentally shaped by our assumptions about the
purposes or functions of medical treatment in society.  Clarity
about these assumptions is necessary for appropriate service
improvement and advocacy.  The term, "services," implies work
performed and the application of some technology which is
"useful" or "beneficial" to the patient.  However, just what
constitutes a "benefit"-i.e., what the desired goals and
outcomes are for the patient-is subject to some debate.  In the
course, we will discuss distinction among several models that
emphasize different goals in the treatment and care of
patients.