The Social Dimensions of AIDS: Method and Theory

The Social Dimensions of AIDS: Method and Theory

The Social Dimensions of AIDS: Method and Theory

The Social Dimensions of AIDS: Method and Theory


A collection of original papers on the nature of AIDS social research, this volume brings together anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and public health researchers to consider the methodological, empirical, and conceptual aspects of the problem. Unlike other studies, which focus on the medical and epidemiological aspects of AIDS, this study specifically focuses on the social aspects of the disease, the response of the community and medical profession, and the effects of the epidemic upon the gay subculture. Consideration is given to methodological shortcomings in the research on the social aspects of AIDS as well as reports of original research.


With so many excellent publications already on the market, why yet another AIDS book? This volume is actually quite different, since it is the first concerned primarily with the psychosocial and cultural dimensions of AIDS and the methodological dilemmas of conducting this kind of AIDS research. Fifteen original chapters, never before published, are presented by AIDS researchers from highly diverse backgrounds, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, social psychology, psychiatry, social work, public health and nursing. The underlying premise of the book is that an interdisciplinary approach to AIDS, which would include research specialists in the social and behavioral sciences, as well as researchers in the biomedical science, is essential for a comprehensive understanding of this tragic epidemic.

This book is not a collection of papers from a symposium. In November 1983, it became clear to us that a volume was needed to pull together the emerging ideas and beginning AIDS-related research projects of social and behavioral scientists. Actually, many of the research projects detailed in this volume were still underway or just beginning when we first started our search for quality papers and research. We are very pleased that the development of this volume has promoted and hastened important sociomedical research on AIDS. It is our hope that this work will spur other social and behavioral scientists to begin new AIDS research projects.

One of our initial doubts of producing a book on AIDS was that new information comes along so quickly, that by the time the book would be available, much of the data would need to be revised. For that reason, we have put the major emphasis of this volume on theoretical and conceptual issues in AIDS research. These theoretical and conceptual concerns are applicable to understanding the epidemiological, psychological, cultural and sociological variable in the emergence of any major epidemic.

We wish to thank Ms. Yolanda Rivera for her excellent typing skills, Ms. Diane Bolognone for her assistance with the index, Mr. George Zimmar and Ms. Dawn Barber of Praeger for their assistance and the late Ms. Sally Libin for her encouragement.

Douglas A. Feldman, Ph.D.

Thomas M. Johnson, Ph.D. November, 1985 . . .

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