Sociology is a field that I find very interesting because it forces me to look at things from all sorts of perspectives, not just my own. I’m used to viewing the world through my particular biases and leanings that it is exciting to see the world in different ways as well as understand why those views (including my own) are held. Because I eventually intend to become a doctor, the field of sociology that most interests me is Medical Sociology.
Medical Sociology analyzes the social contexts of healthcare, including the subjective experience of illness, which is influenced by many factors such as age, race, gender, and social status. Medical Sociology also has a significant focus on interactions between healthcare providers, which I find particularly interesting because most studies like this focus on interactions between patient and provider rather than interactions between just providers.
Medical Sociology is a broad field of Sociology and encompasses many issues. Amongst these issues, major trends include workplace interactions, differences in patient healthcare experience and access due to social factors such as race, economic standing, and culture. Medical sociologists have found that ‘social factors such as social class, political orientations, and values lay behind the actions and behaviours of individual practitioners and can influence the quality of healthcare and limit the availability of medicine by putting up barriers to people who do not fit their preferred group (Randhawa, 2014).
Medical sociologists also focus on illnesses such as ADHD, which can be caused by social issues. Well known medical sociologist Peter Conrad attributed the widespread diagnosis of ADHD to the ‘medicalization of deviance’ (Conrad, 1976) in his paper ‘The Discovery of Hyperkinesis: Notes on the Medicalization of Deviant Behavior’ he argued that the explosion of ADHD diagnoses (then called Hyperkinesis). In the mid 1970s was not because a new disorder was discovered but instead because the social controls available to society expanded through the introduction of stimulant medications, which allowed for previously deviant behaviors to be classified as a treatable medical disorder (Conrad, 1976). This trend continues throughout medical sociology, and most deviant behavior tends to fall under the medical sociology umbrella.
Prominent medical sociologists include Peter Conrad, who has published many works regarding medical sociology, especially regarding the medicalization of society. Anselm Strauss developed grounded theory, which is a general methodology for developing theory that is grounded in data systematically gathered and analyzed (Strauss, 1994). Howard S. Becker’s book ‘The Outsiders’ is considered one of the first books to talk about labeling theory and its connection to social deviancy. Peter Conrad’s publication ‘The Discovery of Hyperkinesis: Notes on the Medicalization of Deviant Behavior’ is fascinating to me because I am diagnosed with ADHD, in reading this paper it was impressive that not too long ago I would’ve been considered socially deviant and placed in an asylum.
However, with the expanded social control available to medical professionals, deviance can now be treated rather than locked away. The JLC is an example of such expanded social control, allowing for people with issues such as mine to succeed when previously those with learning disorders were shunned for being different. Peter Conrad’s publication, ‘The medicalization of society: On the transformation of human conditions into treatable diseases’ is a paper written on the influence that pharmaceutical companies and patients have on the medical industry, transforming once regular occurrences into medical disorders to fix (Conrad, 2007).
Careers in medical sociology are mostly research based, with administration positions available in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Careers in medical sociology also include teaching at universities and in corporate settings.The research method I used to research medical sociology I used secondary data analysis.