Parson's Theories Essay

Length: 2 pages Sources: 2 Subject: Healthcare Type: Essay Paper: #46774740 Related Topics: Deviance, Theory Of Caring, Conflict Theory, Medical

Excerpt from Essay :

Talcott Parson's concept of the sick role involves complicity on the part of both patient and community. The patient, once labeled as "sick," is exempt from the roles and duties expected of a healthy person, enabling a form of socially sanctioned deviance. The deviance is socially sanctioned because the physician, who is in a position of power, authorizes the sick role. Parson's sick role theory is unique because it focuses on the sociology of illness, and includes both structural and functional factors.

Illness deviates from the norm practically by definition, because functional wellness is presumed to be normative. When a person becomes incapacitated in whatever way due to illness or injury, that person's behaviors, level of functioning, and usefulness to society deviate from the norm. Although Parsons evolved his sick role theory in the middle of the 20th century, it remains a potent guiding foundation for medical sociology. Sick role theory remains relevant because it can help elucidate issues related to labor relations and human resources,


All together, there are four categories of rights and responsibilities. The responsibility to seek care and work within the structure of the medical establishment remain salient, as it would be considered doubly deviant if a sick person were to simply extricate herself from society rather than avail herself of treatment. This is why persons who refuse medical care for religious or other personal reasons are stigmatized; they are not fulfilling their responsibility as a sick person. The sick person is, however, exempt from responsibility for the illness itself. This can be problematic with illnesses caused by lifestyle choices, such as obesity or lung disease. In spite of the limitations and challenges posed by Parson's sick role theory, it remains part of the underpinning of medical sociology.

2. A physician is often expected to fulfill many intersecting roles, and those roles have become more complex than ever before. Doctors are often high profile figures, may need to work with the media, or write to an audience not of their peers but to the public. Likewise, doctors might participate in public policy, shaping the future of the health care industry and its manifold professions. Some doctors become behind -- the scenes researchers rather than…

Sources Used in Documents:


Varul, M.Z. (2010). Talcott Parsons, the sick role, and chronic illness. Body Society 16(2): 72-94.

Working Party of the Royal College of Physicians (2005). Doctors in society. Clinical Medicine 5(6).

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