410.612.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 1st Term | 3 Credit(s)
TTh 3:30:00 PM
  • Contact Information
    Katherine Clegg Smith
  • Course Learning Objectives

    Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

    • (1) analyze the foundational theoretical perspectives drawn from sociology and how these perspectives have been applied to issues of public health
    • (2) apply each perspective to a public health problem
    • (3) demonstrate that the perspective one begins with influences the scientific questions analyzed
    • (4) discuss the policy implications of public health programs shaped by each perspective
  • Course Description

    In this course, we examine three theoretical perspectives that are at the foundation stones of sociology, particularly as applied to medical sociology and sociologically-informed public health research. The three perspectives covered in this course are:

    1. Conflict Theory (aka: critical theory)
    2. Sociology of Meaning (including phenomenology, symbolic interactionism, and social construction)
    3. Durkheimian Theory (aka: structure functionalism)

    We will use these perspectives to analyze various aspects of health and illness, the health care system, and health policy issues. For each perspective, our aim will be to understand its assumptions about the social world and the intellectual questions it raises. We will also examine how each perspective has been applied in the study of health and illness and health care systems. 

    A major objective of this course is to introduce and explore the critical elements of each of the three main sociological perspectives and explore how each influences which scientific questions are posed and, subsequently, the policy recommendations that may follow.

  • Intended Audience

    Masters and doctoral students with interest in the topic.

  • Methods of Assessment
    Student evaluation will be based on three papers, class participation, and a group presentation.
  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • Contact Information

    Katherine Clegg Smith, Ph.D.
    Office: HH 726

  • Use of cell phones and laptops during class

    Laptops are allowable in class for purposes related to class. Cell phones should not be used or visible. 

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at