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This photo depicts medical workers with a face mask and gloves training for safety so they can enter infection zones.
Medical personnel are at the front lines of extremely dangerous work. Personal protective clothing is essential for any health worker entering an infection zone, as shown by these trainees for the UK's National Health Service. (Photo courtesy of DFID - UK Department for International Development/flickr)

According to the World Health Organization and ABC Health News, on March 19, 2014 a "mystery" hemorrhagic fever outbreak occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This outbreak was later confirmed to be Ebola, a disease first discovered in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 2014 outbreak started a chain reaction in West Africa, sickening more than 8,000 people and leaving more than 4,000 dead by October.

At the time of this writing, Ebola is national news in the United States, and certainly global news as well. Infection of U.S. medical staff (both in West Africa and at home) has led to much fear and distrust, and discussion of restrictions on flights from West Africa was one proposed way to stop the spread of the disease. Ebola first entered the United States via U.S. missionary medical staff who were infected in West Africa and then transported home for treatment. The case of Thomas Eric Duncan, who unwittingly imported Ebola into the United States as he flew from Liberia to Texas in September 2014 to visit family, increased the level of fear.

How do we best respond to this horrific virus? Restrict visitors from West Africa, enhance training and protective gear for all U.S. medical workers and law enforcement? Many concerns surround this disease and few agree upon the appropriate response. You can follow the progression of the outbreak at (External Link) .

The Ebola case brings many issues to the forefront. Are we in the cross-hairs of a large-scale Ebola epidemic in the United States? Or are the few cases of infection (primarily of health professionals) as far as the disease will spread in the United States? In the short term, how do we best prevent, identify, and treat current and potential cases?

The sociology of health encompasses social epidemiology, disease, mental health, disability, and medicalization. The way that we perceive health and illness is in constant evolution. As we learn to control existing diseases, new diseases develop. As our society evolves to be more global, the way that diseases spread evolves with it.

What does “health” mean to you? Do you believe that there are too many people taking medications in U.S. society? Are you skeptical about people claiming they are “addicted” to gambling or “addicted” to sex? Can you think of anything that was historically considered a disease but is now considered within a range of normality? Or anything that has recently become known as a disease that before was considered evidence of laziness or other character flaws? Do you believe all children should receive vaccinations? These are questions examined in the sociology of health.

Sociologists may also understand these issues more fully by considering them through one of the main theoretical perspectives of the discipline. The functionalist perspective is a macroanalytical perspective that looks at the big picture and focuses on the way that all aspects of society are integral to the continued health and viability of the whole. For those working within the functionalist perspective, the focus is on how healthy individuals have the most to contribute to the stability of society. Functionalists might study the most efficient way to restore “sick” individuals to a healthy state. The conflict perspective is another macroanalytical perspective that focuses on the creation and reproduction of inequality. Someone applying the conflict perspective might focus on inequalities within the health system itself, by looking at disparities in race, ethnicity, gender, and age. Someone applying the interactionist perspective to health might focus on how people understand their health, and how their health affects their relationships with the people in their lives.

References

ABC News Health News. "Ebola in America, Timeline of a Deadly Virus." Retrieved Oct. 23rd, 2014 ( (External Link) ).

Centers for Disease Control. 2011b.“Pertussis.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 15, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Conrad, Peter, and Kristin Barker. 2010. “The Social Construction of Illness: Key Insights and Policy Implications.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51:67–79.

CNN. 2011. “Retracted Autism Study an 'Elaborate Fraud,' British Journal Finds.” CNN , January 5. Retrieved December 16, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Devlin, Kate. 2008. “Measles worry MMR as vaccination rates stall.” The Telegraph , September 24. Retrieved January 19, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Sugerman, David E., Albert E. Barskey, Maryann G. Delea, Ismael R. Ortega-Sanchez, Daoling Bi, Kimberly J. Ralston, Paul A. Rota, Karen Waters-Montijo, and Charles W. LeBaron. 2010. “Measles Outbreak in a Highly Vaccinated Population, San Diego, 2008: Role of the Intentionally Undervaccinated.” Pediatrics 125(4):747–755. Retrieved December 16, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

World Health Organization. 2014. "Global Alert and Response." Retrieved Oct. 23rd 2014 ( (External Link) ).

Zacharyczuk, Colleen. 2011. “Myriad causes contributed to California pertussis outbreak.” Thorofar, NJ: Pediatric Supersite. Retrieved December 16, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Questions & Answers

please explain these theories of social change (Sociocultural evolution theory, cyclical theory, functionalist perspective theory and the Conflict theory)
Phiwa Reply
how to communicate with a group at clubhouse
Jeremy Reply
How do i answer this essay question : Analyze the assertion that crime and deviance are mere social construction
Memory Reply
crime and deviance are functional in society... keeping in mind not all deviance is criminal but all crime is deviance... case in point Rosa Parks and sitting on the bus... her deviant act was not deemed as a crime but it went against social norms and that deviant act brought about change
Andre
another example would be littering... think about when that became a statutory norm (law) in your country... before it was against the law it was a social norm not to litter, your garbage must be thrown in a bin and those who did otherwise were meet by ordinary social sanctions such as a frown...
Andre
littering as become a global problem and it was deemed necessary to make littering against the law so that the environment could not be polluted, and communities would be safer. drains would not be clogged up, rats and other pests won't find refuge, etc...
Andre
Thanks
Memory
who I understand types of worker,s
Raza
Crime and deviance are mere social construction in that society decides what a criminal behavior is and accord punishment according to the severity of the crime. Imagine! what is regarded as crime in country A may not be termed as a crime in country B.
Olu
sociological imagination
Jonathan Reply
whatdoyoumeanbysociology
Manav Reply
sociology is the study of human behaviour in society. And human beings actions, reaction, participation in societies.
Syed
How sociologists study human behavior
Mohamed
poverty is a result of economic factors discuss
Brian Reply
Guys what is Sociological imagination?
Omark Reply
Sociological imagination postulated by C. Wright Mills is the ability for an individual or institution to situate personal troubles within an informed social framework. Successive Sociology scholars after CWM have employed the world to mean the kind of insight offered by Sociology and its relevance
Marvis
In everyday life. In a different light, Sociological imagination could be described as the understanding tnat social outcomes are shaped by social contexts, interactions, action and actors
Marvis
perspective in sociology
ali Reply
Can you tell me what is perspective in sociology?
Alina
way of looking at different social realities and proposing definitions of them
Hanief
Sociological perspective is the basic insight of sociology that human behavior is shaped by the social interaction that takes place within those groups..
Omark
Sorry bro, that wasn't for you...
Omark
sociological problem
Abdulrahman Reply
when a high school student gets teased by her basketball team for receiving an academic award,she is dealing with competing
ABENA Reply
more explanation on the emergency of sociology
Ubaida Reply
please can someone explain more on french revolution
Ubaida
Sociology emerged because of negative aspects of French Revolution: an era of emerging intellectuals and reason........
Rafiq
explain sociology in relation to science
Glory
what is sociology of education?
Aliyu Reply
sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect the education and it's outcomes
Iqra
what is an apparent excluder?.
sani
kashmir
Iqra
m also from Kashmir and that does not change how iqra tried to define the sociology of education
Trending
How long you people have been studying sociology?
Trending
I have been preparing for UPSC and took sociology as optional... Despite the fact I was a chemistry student
Trending
I am not... I hve never been a KU student
Trending
no
Iqra
u need to read previous 10 yrs question papers..there are 600 questions..these questions will help u
Muxiru
take ua syllabus read every topic gvn on ua syllabus, practice previous year question papers ...
Iqra
download pdf
Muxiru
Any answer u need just write in google u will get the snswer
Major
Hi..Greetings...by the way will it be good to opt for Ku...or outside for Masters in Sociology
rameez
oll questions aur there related to sociology ...sociology is same in ku and other outside universities
Muxiru
i think it's same the thing is how much uh get the knowledge abt ua subject how much effort uh gv to learn things.... otherwise university ka kaam h degree dena thapa lgana 😁
Iqra
na ....but I feel unv. also matters like it's rank n tag during interviews...n also it...percentage various across boards n universities.n at the end of the day...it's percentage which determines much...not degrees or thabas only
rameez
n thank you for responding jazakallah Khair!
rameez
ku@top rank...joke of the year... though I hav learned frm here n thr it's abt it's distinguishing product
rameez
for any examination either for IAS India's top exam uh should have only 50% so dt uh could be eligible .... nothing matters if smth matters dt is hard work give ua best...
Iqra
Take Principles of soc. by C N Shanker Roa
Khushboo
iqra I feel KU is not good..but indeed the worthy colleagues are...will miss them badly n it sounds like killing inside
rameez
Take Principles of soc. by C N Shanker Roa
Khushboo
read every topic in depth
Khushboo
hihii rameez aa uh talking abt colleagues dea itz lyf n it's dynamic... itz ok keep in contact vd them 😊
Iqra
ya...IQra...I mean colleagues which one gets there.... and um here...coz smtimes I gets the feeling like um in contact wd some of them here!
rameez
I am a psychology student but in this semester we also study sociology soo please all of you will help me
Arxoo
okay
Arxoo
Good morning Friends.
MUBARAK
plz b specific n precise in getting the desired info,,For God sake dont stretch...Meharbani hgi
Hanief
can anybody explain to me the concept of social facts by Durkheim
Zubair
what is functionalism in anthropology
Elijah Reply
hi
Salamatu
hi
Lisa
What is functionalism in anthropology? Answer: A theoretical orientation in anthropology, developed by Bronislaw Malinowski. Functionalism is similar to Radcliffe-Brown's structural functionalism, in that it is holistic and posits that all cultural "traits" are functionally interrelated and for
Lisa
In adelphic polyandry forms of marriage, the children belongs to whome?
Haami Reply
the mother know his father
Usama
but it's not mentioned in options....the options were.... maternal uncle paternal uncle youngest brother & eldest brother
Haami
I think....children belongs to eldest brother... but not conformed yet..!!
Haami
ist child to elder brother 2nd child to younger.....
Iqra
pls can someone help me with the contributions of the following founding Fathers of sociology. Karl max Aguste Comte Emile dukhelin harbart spencia pls
Elijah
define the meaning of alienation
Delphina Reply
define the meaning of capitalism
Delphina
An economic system in vch businesses are run and owned for profit by individuals not by state
Iqra
sure
Elijah

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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