Article ID: CBB001214382

Why Sociologists Abandoned the Sick Role Concept (2014)


The concept of the sick role entered sociology in 1951 when Talcott Parsons creatively separated the sick person out of the doctor--patient dyad. The idea became fundamental in the subdiscipline of medical sociology. By the 1990s, the concept had almost disappeared from the research literature. Beyond the generational and theoretical changes that explain how the sick role idea could become irrelevant or unnecessary to sociologists, there were two immediate factors: the negative politicization of the concept and the shift of medical sociologists to a focus on applied health behavior. In the later, fragmented discipline of sociology, final, total abandonment was still uncertain.

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Authors & Contributors
Lerner, Barron H.
Kim, Kwang-ki
Tribe, Keith
Stolberg, Michael
Demaitre, Luke E.
Finch, John
History of European Ideas
History of the Human Sciences
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Journal of American Culture
Journal of Southern African Studies
Würzburger Medizinhistorische Mitteilungen
State University of New York Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Michigan State Univeristy
New School for Social Research
York University (Canada)
Physicians; doctors
Disease and diseases
Medicine and literature
Parsons, Talcott
Weber, Max
Goffman, Erving
Garfinkel, Harold
Dickens, Charles
Proust, Marcel
United States
South Africa
Great Britain
20th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
19th century
17th century
Universität Göttingen

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