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Parsons sick role thesis proposal

Parsons sick role thesis proposal He believed only the legitimately

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Printed: 23, March 2015

The highly questionable type of the ‘sick role’, produced by American functionalist Talcott Parsons (1902-79) is really a suggested idea of sickness that centered on sociological qualities instead of medical, and it is one which indubitably concerned medical sociology. (Twaddle, 1977: p. 116). Parsons was particularly worried about the social charge of deviant conduct, quarrelling the sick role is learned through primary socialisation processes which people could under your own accord choose to be sick, deviantly following a sick role to become excused using their required social existence. (White-colored, K. 2002: p. 112). While Parsons’ perspective on medicine was more favourable compared to Marxist, he viewed the social need for the sick role as conducting a social function beyond treating disease, and observed how this sort of profession functions to manage deviance and offers a free account of illness like a reaction to social strain. (White-colored, K. 2002: p. 8).

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Although Parsons’ concept is among the most influential in medical sociology it’s considerable critique and debate, accordingly with Parsons presuming recovery is definitely possible the model is restricted having a conditional group of rights that don’t accommodate a variety of conditions, including chronic or incurable illnesses.


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Parsons’ defined the ‘sick role’ as – an ill individual who adopts certain patterns of conduct to be able to minimise the outcome of the illness. (Giddens 2001: p. 159). Through his concept, Parsons describes the social expectations of methods sick individuals are likely to act and just how they should be treated. (Germov, 2007: p. 48). He believed just the legitimately sick had the authority to enter the sick role, as well as in the situation of illness there must be socially prescribed roles for the sick and this sort of profession. (Morgan, M. 1993: p.45). Based on Parsons (1951: pp. 428-79) you will find four key aspects towards the sick role: the sick individual is not accountable for their condition, they’re exempt using their normal social obligations throughout their illness, they have to attempt to get over the condition plus they must seek help and cooperate having a legitimate health specialist.

Parsons sick role thesis proposal in gender, sexuality, other cultures

The sick role derives certain expectations that represent the norms appropriate to being sick, using its primary function to manage the disruptive aftereffect of illness in society by making certain that individuals that do get ill are came back to some condition of health as rapidly as you possibly can. (Morgan, M. 1993: p.47).

Through his alternative analysis of drugs, Parsons contended that despite the fact that modern societies possess a capitalist economy they’ve non capitalist social structures, with this sort of profession being one particular structure. He observed doctors performing non economic operates by taking care of the city in general, treating individuals particularly for disease. This really is as opposed to Marxists view that medicine inside a capitalist society reflects the options of capitalism to be profit oriented and blaming the victim for his or her condition. (White-colored, K. 2002: p. 8). Doctors are credited by their sufferers as getting authority in order to enter the sick role by diagnosing disease, prescribing medicine and granting absence in the workforce. Based on Parsons, to avoid the development of deviance in modern societies the sick person while not accountable for their condition, is anticipated to find professional advice, have obligations placed upon these to cooperate in medical instruction, and also to follow treatment to be able to get back health.

Parsons sociology of health centered on the manifest functions from the sick role in adding towards the social stability and health of society. (Morgan, M. 1993: p.47). Parsons contended that sickness is really a special type of deviant conduct outside of other kinds for example crime. He identified that sickness can threaten the soundness of the healthy society, believing the efficient functioning from the social system depends upon the sick being managed and controlled. (Bilton, 2002: p. 359). Cellular this, Parsons (1951) identified for that patient two legal rights – to become exempt from normal social roles and responsibility for his or her own condition and described two obligations – to would like to get well rapidly and also to consult expert medical opinion. Yet Parsons’ look at illness as deviance (Twaddle, 1977: p. 117) does not address the lay person’s role while their illness, as patient autonomy varies children, for instance are more inclined to be passive recipients of medical help than adults. (Van Krieken, 2006: p. 359). Many other weaknesses happen to be uncovered in Parsons sick example, accordingly, the model doesn’t take into account variations in gender, sexuality, other cultures, race or class, mental or chronic illnesses, alcoholism, the over 60’s or perhaps pregnancy.


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American Professor Eliot Freidson (1923-2005) were built with a theory comparable with Parsons’ model, he reformulated the Parsonian framework and developed the Labelling approach, a theory which involves a among two kinds of deviance – primary and secondary deviance. Although Freidson criticised the Parsonian model, he offered an affordable solution, believing deviant conduct to become a socially produced label with authenticity the important thing to distinguishing between Parsons’ sick roles. Freidson identified three legitimacies of illness: Conditional authenticity, deviants temporarily exempt using their normal obligations, gaining some rights that assist them to go back to an ordinary role Unconditional authenticity, where deviants are permanently exempt using their obligations and permitted additional rights cellular illness that’s thought to be incurable And Illegitimacy, deviants to become exempt from some normal obligations, using the person not held accountable for his or her condition, and gaining couple of rights. (Morgan, M. 1993: p.53) Friedson’s analysis overcomes a few of the limits within Parsons’ method of the sick role, acknowledging that reactions to illness and also the expectations from the sick person can vary between different groups in society based on the nature from the condition. (Morgan, M. 1993: p.55)

Parsons perception of the sick role continues to be very influential, clearly revealing the way the sick person is an essential part of the bigger social context. Although his idea of the sick role continues to be highly criticised, and also the existing research evidence offers little support for that formulation, you should understand it had become in lots of ways an excellent illustration of sociological insight which offered a beginning point for several the continuing empirical queries of medical sociology. (Van Krieken, 2006: p. 359). Size of the Parsonian sick example are in accordance with the character and harshness of the condition, it’s impacted by the character from the illness, social, cultural and private factors (Seagull, 1976: p. 165). However further scientific studies are still needed to solve the precise nature of the relationship and also to specify exactly the modifications essential to allow this general conceptual model to become meaningfully put on study regarding specific physical and mental conditions, varying from chronic illness, alcoholism and also to pregnancy. (Seagull, 1976: p. 165). The growing focus on lifestyle and health within our modern day implies that folks are viewed as bearing ever greater responsibility for his or her own well-being, even when which means contradicting the very first premise from the sick role – individuals aren’t to blame for his or her illness. (Giddens, 2009: p.405).

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