The sociology of health and illness at the turn of the century: back to the future?

Simon Williams, Ellen Annandale, Jonathan Tritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 'think piece' in both style and content, this article offers some thoughts and reflections on selected themes and issues which, we believe, provide some important indicators not simply of the sociology of health and illness' current status, but also of its future prospects. Four key themes have been chosen: (i) social inequalities in health; (ii) emotions and embodiment; (iii) (bio)technology, and finally; (iv) the shifting configuration of health care in Britain. Underlying these four themes, and running through the discussion as a whole, are two further key issues, namely, the contested nature of health and medical knowledge, and debates concerning consumption and risk in late modern society. The article concludes by suggesting that, in the era of the new genetics and the resurgence of biological explanations in the social and natural sciences, the charge of sociological imperialism constitutes both a constraint and opportunity for practitioners working in health and related fields.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological research online
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 1998


  • biology
  • embodiment
  • health
  • health care reforms
  • inequalities
  • new genetics
  • technology


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