Sociology and health: creating the agenda
This chapter examines the development of health as an item on sociology's agenda, and - although space permits only oblique acknowledgement - pays some attention to its obverse, sociology on health's agenda. It opens by considering two alternative accounts of the beginnings of health as an item on sociology's agenda. One asserts that the origins derive primarily from 'taking' doctors' problems as the objects of study in order to help provide solutions. Sociologists, in Britain at least, have shied away from the 'specialisation in the cognitive realm, professionalisation in the social realm and institutionalisation of the political realm' pursued by natural/biomedical scientists. The theme running throughout a large body of this work about doctors and nurses as well as their patients was the power, the autonomy, the dominance of the medical profession. Medical sociologists were fascinated, even mesmerized by the power doctors could wield. Sociology of health and illness promised to be far more congenial.