Social construction and health

Sigrun Olafsdottir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Social construction represents a major theme in sociology. Ever since Berger and Luckman (1967) suggested that some of our most taken-for-granted assumptions about society are embedded in specific realities, sociologists, across the board, have been interested in such processes and applied them to a wide array of topics. Social constructs are viewed as the by-products of countless human choices, rather than laws that result from divine will or nature. This approach stands in contrast to essentialism that considers specific phenomena as inherent and transhistorical essences independent of human actions and decisions (Burr 1995). The theoretical contributions of medical sociologists within this perspective are shaped by the development of medical sociology itself. Early on, Strauss (1957) pointed out the inherent tension between sociologists in medicine and sociologists of medicine. The former generally collaborate closely with medical doctors to solve practical problems in medicine, but the latter are committed to use issues of health, illness, and healing as a window to help us understand larger sociological questions. Increasingly, sociologists are interested in questions that simultaneously advance sociological theory and have implications for the well-being of populations and individuals. Not surprisingly, these questions often center on how social and cultural factors matter for the way in which we understand and respond to biological processes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedical Sociology on the Move
Subtitle of host publicationNew Directions in Theory
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789400761933
ISBN (Print)9400761929, 9789400761926
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 Springer Science + Business Media Dordrecht.


Dive into the research topics of 'Social construction and health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this