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Health and Illness

Health and Illness

Mike Bury

ISBN: 978-0-745-63030-4

Mar 2005, Polity

176 pages

Out of stock



Health and illness underpin our everyday existence. Health allows us to live full lives and to function as social beings; illness disrupts our lives, sometimes seriously. But health not only affects individuals, it also impacts upon society as a whole. Medical breakthroughs and scandals, health scares and health service problems all vie for the attention of politicians and public alike.

Michael Bury provides a lively introduction to the sociology of health and illness for students approaching the topic for the first time. Drawing on classic writings and up-to-date research, he discusses the conceptualization and patterning of health and illness in contemporary society. He highlights a range of factors, such as gender, age, ethnicity and class, which influence the occurrence and distribution of illness over time. The book then focuses on debates about the body, the role of health services and the politics of health policy. In conclusion, Bury argues that we must take a dynamic view of health and illness as processes that are shaped by social circumstances and altering perceptions.

This short introduction will be essential reading for all students studying the sociology of health as part of their degree programme.

1 What is Health?.

2 The Patterning of Health and Illness.

3 Gender, Sex and Health.

4 The Body, Health and Society.

5 Health and Health Care.

6 The Future of Health.



"Michael Bury’s concise and timely book is must reading for students entering the field or for professionals in cognate fields wondering what has happened in the sociology of health and illness over the last few years."

Gary Albrecht, University of Illinois of Chicago

"Written in an engaging and accessible style, Health and Illness is outstanding, carefully addressing key classic and contemporary debates within the sociology of health and illness, and illustrating these with the most up-to-date research."

Sara Arber, University of Surrey

"Michael Bury is one of the most thoughtful observers in medical sociology. He provides an engaging and critical introduction to the concepts and issues surrounding the sociology of health and illness. Both neophytes and seasoned students will benefit greatly from the rich discussions presented here."Peter Conrad, Brandeis University

"Health and Illness is a stimulating introduction to the field. It covers the topics that matter most today and raises important questions about how we will view health and illness in the future in response to advances in technology and the growing medical surveillance of the individual."

Ellen Annandale, University of Leicester

  • A lively, well-written introduction to the sociology of health and illness.
  • Draws on classic literature and up to date research on social aspects of health and illness, including factors such as social class, ethnicity, age and gender
  • Provides the reader with an accessible analysis of complex topics such as the medical model, the body and health, and health care evaluation
  • Draws on both UK and US material throughout