ACCS Exploring Stigma Medicalization and the Sick Role in Leprosy Essay

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Sawbones and the Social Construction of Health and Illness  

The podcast, Sawbones, ( is a weekly show where a husband and wife team (she’s a medical doctor and he’s a comedian) discuss a variety of topics in medical history, often focusing on a particular disease or a particular treatment.

The purpose of this assignment is to apply concepts and ideas from the course to examples outside of class, which helps develop your sociological perspective! 

What to do:

First, choose an episode of Sawbones. I recommend the following episodes as ones that might be particularly fruitful, but you may choose another episode with my approval.

Recommended episodes:

Leprosy ( to an external site.)

Hysteria ( to an external site.)

Phrenology to an external site.

Green Sickness ( to an external site.)

Listen to the episode and take notes on facts and ideas that you find sociologically interesting.

For the write up:

Give me a brief introduction paragraph. What episode did you listen to? What was it about? What concepts will you be talking about in relation to the podcast episode?

  1. Following this, you will relate the facts and ideas from the podcast episode to four (4) major concepts from Weitz’ textbook. This might include concepts like stigma, medicine as social control, medicalization, and the sick role, among others. For each term/concept from the text, you will provide a definition. Then, you will discuss how this term/concept relates to the podcast episode. You will do this for each of the 4 concepts you choose. I recommend having separate paragraphs for each concept, so your ideas are clearly presented. While I encourage you to select concepts from chapter 5-7, I will also allow you to bring in other ideas from earlier weeks (for instance, about race, class, gender, sexuality, and so forth) if you feel inclined!

You should also end the paper with a conclusion that discusses why any of this matters practically. So for example, if you wrote about “medicalization,” perhaps you could discuss the consequences of medicalization (What are the benefits? What are the potential negative consequences? Who was impacted by this phenomenon?) Think critically about not only the topic, but health and illness more broadly. This should be a time to explore your ideas!

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