Sociology and Nursing

Sociology and Nursing

Sociology and Nursing

Sociology and Nursing


This lively, introductory text provides nurses with the foundations of a sociological understanding of health issues, aiding them in thinking about their work and the role of their profession. It explains the key sociological theories and debates with humour and imagination in a way which will encourage an inquisitive and reflective approach on the part of any student who engages with the text.The book is organized so that the student moves from the main sociological perspectives through the key concepts underpinning nursing, to sociological approaches to themes which constantly recur in the experience of nursing. Individual chapters cover: imagination; health; science; power; professions; medicalisation; inequality; sex; madness and death.With summaries at the end of each chapter and suggestions for further reading, students will find this a valuable text, covering essential areas in a thought-provoking way. Lecturers will find it a helpful text for generating discussion in tutorials and seminars, as a type of formative assessment and in the preparation of summative assignments.


Nursing practice without sociology is akin to sexual congress without orgasm - possible to enact, but highly unsatisfactory. It is the equivalent of entering a strange country without a map to explain the contours and pitfalls of the land. The traveller may eventually find the desired journey's end, but the route taken will be meandering and hazardous.

There is a dynamic and fundamental role for sociological knowledge within nursing (and health care generally). Sociology demystifies the nature of health and illness, highlights the social causes of disease and death, exposes power-factors and ethical dilemmas in the production of health care, and either directly or indirectly helps to create a discerning practitioner who then becomes capable of more focused and competent decision making.

However, I do not wish to overstate the case for sociology. The contribution of sociology must not be at the expense of the practical skills and instinctive 'caring', philosophy without which there is no discipline of nursing. Furthermore, the new millennium is an era of revolutionary ('hard') science and technology. Starting in the latter part of the twentieth century, unprecedented discoveries and 'reshaping' of human knowledge about the physical world have taken place. In the fields of physics, chemistry, mathematics, molecular biology, computing, pharmacology and medicine (both in terms of diagnosis and treatment), the accumulation of and transformation in knowledge have been nothing short of incredible. Through its foundations in critical thought, it is the task of sociology to examine just how authentic these changes are.

However, no matter how much hype there is surrounding the manufacture of theories to explain everything, and how effervescent are the promises for the detection of cures for all diseases, these

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