You are here

Understanding the Sociology of Health

Understanding the Sociology of Health
An Introduction

Fourth Edition
Additional resources:

December 2016 | 352 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Understanding the Sociology of Health continues to offer an easy to read introduction to sociological theories essential to understanding the current health climate. Up-to-date with key policy and research, and including case studies and exercises to critically engage the reader, this book shows how sociology can answer complex questions about health and illness, such as why health inequalities exist.


To better help with your studies this book contains:

·         a global perspective with international examples;

·         a new chapter on health technologies;

·         online access to videos of the author discussing key topics as well as recommended further readings;

·         a glossary, chapter summaries and reflective questions to help you engage with the subject.


Though aimed primarily at students on health and social care courses and professions allied to medicine, this textbook provides valuable insights for anyone interested in the social aspects of health.


Section 1 – Theories, Perspectives and Concepts
Chapter 1 – Sociological Theory: Explaining and Theorising
Chapter 2 – Understanding Health
Chapter 3 – A Brief History of Health and Healing
Chapter 4 - Evidence and Enquiry: an Overview of Sociological Research
Section 2 – Key Themes
Chapter 5 – Inequality and Health
Chapter 6 – Gender and health
Chapter 7 –Ethnicity, Migration and Health
Chapter 8 – Mental Health and Emotional Distress
Chapter 9 – Sexualities and Health (with Megan Todd)
Chapter 10 – Sociology of the Body: Chronic Illness and Disability
Chapter 11 – Health, Ageing and the Life Course
Section 3 - Contexts
Chapter 12 – Place of care
Chapter 13 – Health Policy
Chapter 14 – Sport, Health Exercise and Wellbeing
Chapter 15 – Death and Dying
Chapter 16 – Health Technologies

'This textbook is a great resource for lecturers willing to introduce the sociology of health and medicine to undergraduate students. The further reading unmistakably helps in planning tutorials and seminars. Overall, the textbook could serve as a guide for students interested in producing graduate projects on the sociology of health.' 

Dr Genaro Castro-Vázquez
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

'After reviewing SAGE’s Understanding the Sociology of Health: An Introduction, the 4th edition by Anne-Marie Barry and Chris Yuill, one can draw the conclusion that it is essential to incorporate a sociological view on health, illness and wellness in society to ensure a full-rounded or integrated approach.  It is an easy read with a very practical structure which makes it easier for any reader, from academic to student to practitioner, to not only understand the sociological theoretical base but to also bring it to practice through case studies and key elements per chapter.  It is an essential book which should be recommended on courses on Sociology of Health to assist all health practitioners and sociologist to work collectively towards the well-being in society.  It can also provide a good base for comparison between developed and developing countries to unpack the complexities and possibilities of health and social life.' 

Leon Roets
UNISA, South Africa

'In an increasingly globalised world Understanding the Sociology of Health provides insights into diverse cultural and social understandings of what it means to be ‘healthy’ and health care policy in different parts of the world.  This challenges ‘common sense’ assumptions around ‘health’ and what is meant by ‘healthcare’ and encourages students to engage with a wide range of sociological concepts, debates and theories.' 

Jessica Marshall
The University of Central Lancashire, UK

'This book is comprehensive but not too cluttered with information that can be found elsewhere. It is clearly written with links to a range of resources allowing various levels of engagement with the material for learners and teachers. The ‘boxes’ with essential information, summaries and questions are most useful and make Understanding the Sociology of Health that much more attractive.' 

Professor Leah Gilbert
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

'This latest edition continues to provide a very useful introduction to understanding the breadth and depth of the sociology of health, especially for students and those new to the subject. The new chapter focusing on health technologies is particularly salient and provides a useful critical exploration of the topic.' 

Dr Richard McGrath
UniSA, Australia

'This book provides excellent introductory points to assist niche researchers in the understanding and learning of the sociology of health. The arguments, discussion about several important issues within the sociology of health are from a variety of social-cultural perspectives. The systematic structure is attractive and easy to understand.  I would certainly recommend the book for those who are engaged in health research.' 

Mohamed Azmi Hassali
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia

Excellent overview of sociology of health useful for those who are studying to become a health professional.

Dr Laetitia Zeeman
Nursing and Midwifery (Brighton), Brighton University
November 11, 2016

This is an accessible, and informative book which introduces and explains the key themes of the subject

Ms Rebecca Thorley
The Lifelong Learning Institute, Leeds University
November 8, 2016

This may be a good book in terms of the relationship society-body-health but I lead a Global Health Course and in my opinion the book falls short of exploring complex societal issues and the relationship to the body and health in various contexts (e.g. complexity and heterogeneity aspects of the relationship society-health)

Dr Mei Trueba
Health , Brighton and Sussex Medical School
October 12, 2016

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from

ISBN: 9781473929456

ISBN: 9781473929449