In 2004, the discipline of sociology celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Sociological Association. In 2005, the Section on Medical Sociology celebrated 50 years since the formation of the Committee on Medical Sociology within the ASA. And, in 2003, the Section on the Sociology of Mental Health celebrated ten years since its founding within the American branch of the discipline. This brief accounting marks the American-based or- nizational landmarks central to concerns about how social factors shape the mental health problems individuals face as well as the individual and system responses that follow. This history also lays a trail of how the focus on mental health and illness has narrowed from a general concern of the discipline to a more intense, substantively-focused community of scholars targeting a common set of specific theoretical and empirical questions. While mental health and illness figured prominently in the writings of classical sociologists, contem- rary sociologists often view research on mental health as peripheral to the "real work" of the discipline. The sentiment, real or perceived, is that the sociology of mental health, along with its sister, medical sociology, may be in danger of both losing its prominence in the discipline and losing its connection to the ma- stream core of sociological knowledge (Pescosolido & Kronenfeld, 1995).
The Handbook of the Sociology of Health, Illness & Healing advances the understanding of medical sociology by identifying the most important contemporary challenges to the field and suggesting directions for future inquiry. The editors provide a blueprint for guiding research and teaching agendas for the first quarter of the 21st century.
In a series of essays, this volume offers a systematic view of the critical questions that face our understanding of the role of social forces in health, illness and healing. It also provides an overall theoretical framework and asks medical sociologists to consider the implications of taking on new directions and approaches. Such issues may include the importance of multiple levels of influences, the utility of dynamic, life course approaches, the role of culture, the impact of social networks, the importance of fundamental causes approaches, and the influences of state structures and policy making.
This volume provides the first comprehensive overview of social psychological research on inequality for a graduate student and professional audience. Drawing on all of the major theoretical traditions in sociological social psychology, its chapters demonstrate the relevance of social psychological processes to this central sociological concern. Each chapter in the volume has a distinct substantive focus, but the chapters will also share common emphases on: o The unique contributions of sociological social psychology o The historical roots of social psychological concepts and theories in classic sociological writings o The complementary and conflicting insights that derive from different social psychological traditions in sociology. This Handbook is of interest to graduate students preparing for careers in social psychology or in inequality, professional sociologists and university/college libraries.