Health Sociology/Introduction

Health sociology, also known as the sociology of health and illness or the sociology of health and wellness, is an interdisciplinary field of study that seeks to explore the relations that we have as humans with our health and vice versa. More specifically, it seeks to inquire into the relationships that influence our health from societal culture, attitudes, and knowledge that redefines health as a social product as much as a natural state of being.

Across its pedagogy, disciplines, and research, academia is a highly dynamic community and the development of health sociology is no different. As this area of academic research has evolved, so has its focuses and criticisms. As such, you will find the very name of health sociology in flux - its meaning appraised and contested by various groups. For example, sociology of health and illness might suggest a more sociologically-focused study on the aspects of our health and subsequent illness, whereas health sociology can highlight a more interdisciplinary conversation both in terms of the interrelations of health and society as well as joint investigations by interacting health and sociological perspectives.

Throughout health sociology, further sub-disciplines, fields of study, and related disciplines are referenced, used, and fused within health sociological work in order to understand the complex relations that exist between our society and health. From work within medical sociology, epidemiology, to history, the bounds of health sociology are highly flexible to respond to a complicated fields of study. These complex and complicated variables include:

Scale: examining issues at the microsocial level (e.g. individual health), mesosocial level (e.g. community health), to the macrosocial level (e.g. planetary health)



Resources edit


  • Cost of Living


  • Body & Society
  • Journal of health and social behavior
  • Sociology of health & illness
  • Sociology of science and medicine
  • Health: an interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness and medicine

Further reading edit


  • Annandale, E. (1998). The sociology of health and medicine: a critical introduction. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Bradby, H. (2009). Medical sociology: an introduction. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Bradby, H. (2012). Medicine, health and society: a critical sociology . London: Sage.
  • Bury, M. (1997). Health and illness in a changing society. New York: Routledge. 1st ed.
  • Bury, M. and Gabe, J. (2003). The Sociology of Health and Illness: A Reader. Cambridge: Polity Books.
  • De Swaan, A. (1990). The management of normality: critical essays in health and welfare. London: Routledge.
  • Nettleton, S. (2020). The Sociology of Health and Illness. Cambridge: Polity. 4th ed.
  • White, K. (2017). An introduction to the sociology of health and illness. London: SAGE. 3rd ed.

Journal articles edit

  • Armstrong, D. 1995. The rise of surveillance medicine. Sociology of health and illness 17(3) 393-404.