07234 - Sociology of Health

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Forli
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Sociology (cod. 8495)

Learning outcomes

The course is aimed to describe and analyse the several connections between subjectivity, social dimensions and health. At the end of the course, the student will be able to analyse the social and economicdeterminants of health, the traits of medicalization in the contemporary society, the different features of disease/illness/sickness. This will be done also taking in to consideration global health and social stress. Moreover, the student will be able to understand and analyse heterogeneous social situations and its consequences on individual health; to discover pathogenic social contexts, to find meaningful nexus between social stress and socio-economic causes.

Course contents

In the first part of the course, starting from the main concepts of sociology of health - primarily the social construction of the body, health inequalities, the medicalization of life, the illness experience - heuristic tools will be provided for the understanding and analysis of the different contexts of disease and suffering. Furthermore, the following topics will be explored:

- network and health;

- the Life Course Perspective;

- health policies and health professions;

- digital health and big data;

- migration and health.

The second part of the course will focus on the changes in the role of the patient in contemporary society. More specifically, we will analyse the consequences of digital society on the experience of care and on patient empowerment. Particular attention will be devoted to the concepts of health literacy, cultural health capital and engagement. Finally, the perspective of digital surveillance will be introduced and analysed.

The third part of the course will examine and critically analyse some aspects of bionic society: biomedicalization, pharmacologization and human enhancement.

The course will also host experts on various health-related topics.

Teamwork on Covid-19 will also be proposed.


- Cardano M., Giarelli G., Vicarelli G. (2020) (a cura di), Manuale di sociologia della salute e della medicina, il Mulino, Bologna

- Moretti V. (2020), Sociologia del paziente, FrancoAngeli, MI

- Maturo A. (2012), La società bionica. FrancoAngeli, MI

The volume 'La società bionica' can be replaced by:

Kleinman P. (2010), Four social theories for global health, The Lancet, 375: 1518-1519

Maturo A. Setiffi F. (2016), The Gamification of Risk: How Health Apps Foster Self-Confidence And Why This Is Not Enough, (with F. Setiffi), “Health, Risk and Society”, 17(7-8): 477-494

Maturo A., Mori L. and Moretti V. (2016), An Ambiguous Health Education: The Quantified Self and the Medicalization of the Mental Sphere, “Italian Journal of Sociology of Education”, 2016, 8(3), 248-268.

Erasmus students should contact Prof. Maturo  in order to plan more readings in English


Teaching methods

Teaching will be carried out in the "traditional mode" (physically and also on line). The professor will be always physically in the classroom while students will be allowed to attend on the basis of the restrictions due to Covid-19. It is possible that students will "take turns" in case the classroom does not allow physical attendance for all the students.

It is fundamental to be able to read and understand English texts.

Assessment methods

One intermediate test focused on the  sociology of the patient. Specifically, you will be asked to write an essay applying a scientific methodology. Detailed indications can be found in the on line resources of the class. The mark of the essay will represent 33.3% of the final grade.

The final exam is oral.


- to have understood the course program

- to be able to develop sociological inferences in an original way

- to be able to apply empirically the main concepts of sociology of health

- spontaneous study of foreign literature.

Teaching tools

PC, video, powerpoint, social networks

Office hours

See the website of Antonio Francesco Maturo


No poverty Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.