Ideas about Illness: An Intellectual and Political History by Uta Gerhardt

By Uta Gerhardt

A ebook at the heritage of rules of clinical sociology that is a part of a chain, designed to narrate a range of empirical parts to significant difficulties of sociological conception. This quantity goals to supply an summary of sociology's conceptualization of illness.

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453). Parsons introduces relativity not only as a property of social life defined by standards of performance; he also sees a development towards increasing salience of relativity in the history of modern society. The degree to which 'purely mental' as opposed to 'purely somatic' aspects of health prevail in a society are seen as related to, and in this way relative to, the historically unique character of a culture or social structure. The idea is that the more 'mental' a prevailing concept of health is in a society or epoch, the more conspicuous is 'the prominence of the factors of relativity as a function of culture and social structure' (Parsons, 1958/64a, p.

Most critics charge him with leaving out the standpoint of the individual (and promoting an 'oversocialised' conception); but this must be revised in the light of his illness theory. The baseline of his health-illness thinking is that health and illness are but individual states of the mind and body. The statement that 'we wish to stress that we regard health as a state of the human individual, not of collectivities' (Parsons, 1978a, p. 67) emphasises in his last book again his option from the late 1940s and early 1950s that a formalist and relativist notion of health serves the sociological purpose better than a substantive moralist position.

It may be clad with the seemingly value-free concepts offered by socialsystems taxonomy. That boundaries are fluid between health and illness, crime and illness, and so on, makes it difficult for the sociologist to denounce Fascist versions of societal integration. Parsons' concepts mirror his incapacity to make moralist statements. If his is a subjectivist view it is essential to find out whether he suggests that a line ought to be drawn and where. Weber's demand that science and politics be separated in sociological thought can partially justify why Parsons refrains from openly taking a moral viewpoint.

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