07234 - Sociology of Health

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

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 economic determinants 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

1. Theories in sociology of health

- the protosociologists in the history of sociology (Ramazzini, Engels, Virchow, Sigerist)

- the founding fathers and sociology of health (Weber, Durkheim)

- theories: functionalism; phenomenology; conflictualism; critical theory

- correlational model

- theoretical analysis of health care systems

- body and society

- sociology of health professions

- social capital, risk, health-paths

- ethical and social aspects in genetics

2. Themes and applications of sociology of health

§  the hospital as a cultural system

§  health communication

§  multiculturalism and health

§  models of participation

§  complementary and alternative medicine

3. Medicalization of everyday life

§  the social construction of diagnosis

- mental health

§  Disease, Illness, Sickness

§  Sickscape and P-Model


4. The Bionic Society: main features

5. Global Health

- social inequalities

- social inclusion

6. The Quantified Self

7. The positive side of health: wellbeing


- Maturo A. (2007), Sociologia della malattia. Un'introduzione, FrancoAngeli, Milano.

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

- Rosa H. (2015), Accelerazione e alienazione, Einaudi, TO

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

Lessons in the classroom

Case-histories and tests

Analysis of ads on drugs and on health communications

Assessment methods

Two multiple choice tests (each one make up 25% of the final grade) and a final discussion on the other part of the syllabus (50%of the grade).


- to have understood the 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

Teaching tools

PC, video, powerpoint, social networks


Office hours

See the website of Antonio Francesco Maturo