Sociological theory in medical sociology in the early twenty-first century

Academic Article


  • This article examines current trends in theory in medical sociology and finds that the use of theory is flourishing. The central thesis is that the field has reached a mature state and is in the early stage of a paradigm shift away from a past focus on methodological individualism (in which the individual is the primary unit of analysis) toward a growing utilization of theories with a structural orientation This outcome is materially aided by research methods (for example, hierarchal linear modeling, biomarkers) providing measures of structural effects on the health of the individual that were often absent or underdeveloped in the past. Both quantitative and qualitative methods can be utilized in such research and qualitative studies based on symbolic interaction or social constructionism are not disqualified because of their methodologies and focus. Structure needs to be accounted for in any social endeavor and contemporary medical sociology appears to be doing precisely that as part of the next stage of its evolution. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cockerham WC
  • Start Page

  • 241
  • End Page

  • 255
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 3