Sociology for Nurses
Sociology for Nurses
What is Sociology?
KEY ISSUES IN THIS CHAPTER:
The nature of sociological inquiry.
Sociology, 'common sense' and lay reasoning.
The role of sociology in society and in nursing.
An introduction to sociological theory.
Theorizing mental health and illness. BY THE END OF THIS CHAPTER YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO:
Understand the nature of sociological inquiry.
Recognize the distinction between sociology, 'common sense' and lay reasoning.
Engage in some of the debates concerning the role of sociology within society and nursing.
Discuss different sociological theories.
Apply sociological theories to the issue of mental health and illness. 1 Introduction
Sociology is concerned, in the broadest sense, with the study of human society. As this implies, its scope is almost limitless: it is possible, in principle, to have a sociology of any activity in which human beings engage. Inevitably the sorts of activities that have concerned sociologists have changed somewhat over time. The principal concerns of sociologists writing in the nineteenth century, when sociology was just beginning as an academic discipline, were the major social, political and economic changes which had taken place across Europe since the late Middle Ages. Early sociological writing was dominated, for example, by attempts to chart and explain the rise of industrial capitalism and the changing nature and role of religion in society, and to understand the new forms which social and political institutions had taken since the Industrial Revolution (Giddens 2001); this period of time is known as modernity. Today, the changed concerns of sociologists largely reflect the changing nature of society. A shift in sexual attitudes and behaviours, gender relations, globalization and new communications technologies, as well as changing patterns of criminality and social aspects of health and illness - the subject of this book - have all loomed large in recent sociological literature (see, for example, Letherby et al. 2008; Earle and Sharp 2007; Sassen 2007; and Nettleton 2006). Most recently, attention has turned to the subject of happiness. For instance, some of the debates have focused on the individual and social benefits of being happy, such as improved mental health and well-being, as well as on the more controversial economic and political benefits for society generally (such as increased productivity and less frequent use of health services).
a focus on achieving progress, synonymous with industrialization
Activity 1.1 The benefits of happiness
David Cameron's 2006 speech to Google Zeitgeist can be found at: < When you have read this, answer the questions below.
What is happiness? Can you define it?
Can you make patients happy? If so, how?
Is happiness important in nursing?
Why do you think happiness is a sociological concern?
Figure 1.1 'It's time we admitted that there's more to life than money and it's time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB - general well-being.' David Cameron, British Prime Minister
There are a number of key questions and issues which lie at the heart of sociological inquiry, whatever the specific topic to which it is directed. The aim of this chapter is to introduce the most important of these. Before doing so, it is important to make a few general points about the nature of sociological inquiry and how it may differ from other disciplines. The remainder of this chapter is devoted to a discussion of the main the