RSO-13805 Sociology of Health


Credits 5.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. JSC Wiskerke
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. JSC Wiskerke
dr. HM van der Horst
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. JSC Wiskerke
dr. HM van der Horst

Language of instruction:



This course will enable students to look critically at the society they are part of and gives them tools to analyse this society in a scientific way. The course combines a general introduction into sociological thinkers, theories and concepts with an application of such sociological building blocks to health issues. After the course students will have a basic knowledge of sociology, and know how to use these sociological building blocks for a better understanding of health issues.
While starting from the sociological discipline, the course pays attention to the interdisciplinary nature of health issues and the need for social and natural scientists to join forces. Problems such as obesity, can be addressed from a medical perspective, focussing for example on diagnosis and dietary advise. However, this perspective always needs to be complemented with an understanding of the everyday lives of people in which such advise needs to be incorporated. Furthermore, to understand how some people are more at risk than others, we need to look at socio-economic inequality as well as cultural diversity. It is this sociological approach to health which is at the centre of this course.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain fundamental sociological concepts and theories;
- exemplify the application of fundamental sociological concepts and theories in the domain of health;
- compare diverse and dynamic social constructions of health;
- apply sociological concepts and theories in written and oral presentations.


The course consists of plenary lectures (once a week) and discussion lectures (twice a week). During the plenary lectures students are introduced to mayor concepts and theories in sociology. The 6 lectures will cover sociological themes such as the sociological imagination: sociological perspectives, theories and methods; socialisation and social interaction; social change and the role of culture; social inequality and the role of power; difference, deviation and discipline; globalisation, mobility and post modernism. During the discussion lectures we will discuss topics such as medical power and dominance; class and health; ethnicity and health; gender and health; mental health; chronical illness and disability; ageing; places of care on the basis of the assigned textbook on sociology of health.


- written individual exam with open and closed questions (70%);
- group assignment (30%).
To pass a minimum mark of 5.5 is required for both components.


Anne-Marie Barry and Chris Yuill (2012) Understanding the Sociology of Health. London: Sage, and additional articles which we be made available during the course.

Compulsory for: BGMHealth and SocietyBSc2MO