chapter  17
Summary and conclusions
Pages 24

Sociological studies have two broad purposes. One is to chart the impact of societies upon their members; a second is to study the societies themselves in terms of the impact of their institutions upon each other and how these relate to the impact on individuals (Boskoff, 1971). The study of psychiatric disorders can fulfill both functions. On the one hand it seeks to answer the question of whether particular political, economic, and family structures influence the rate of disorder through their impact on the individual. On the other hand knowledge about rates of psychiatric disorders can further understanding of the workings of the social systems in which they occur. In this connection depression is particularly relevant: it is not only relatively common, but it is fundamentally related to social values since it arises in a context of hopelessness consequent upon the loss of important sources of reward or positive value. A woman's own social milieu and the broader social structure are critical because they influence the way in which she thinks about the world and thus the extent of this hopelessness; they determine what is valued, as well as what is lost and how often, and what resources she has to face the loss.