Research Committee on
Sociology of Health, RC15

RC15 main page


Program Coordinators

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 16.

Call for Abstracts
14 April 2015 - 30 September 2015 24:00 GMT

Anyone interested in presenting a paper should submit an abstract on-line to a chosen session of RC/WG/TG
on-line submissions
The abstract (300 words) must be submitted in English, French or Spanish.

Sessions in alphabetical order

Constrained Choice and Health Disparities

Session Organizer(s)
Patricia RIEKER, Boston University, USA,

Session in English

The proposed session will invite papers on how constrained choice shapes health capacity and disparities. Constrained Choice Theory articulates how social position and policies determine the options individuals have in making everyday choices that cumulatively impact their lives and health. Such personal agency may be impeded or enhanced at times by interactions among social positions such as gender, class, race/ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The constraints that affect an individual’s agency and decision-making can occur at the levels of family, work, community, and broader public policy and operate to narrow or expand the range and relative economic and noneconomic costs associated with options which relate to the promotion or restoration of health.
Current research will examine how constrained choice works with extreme cases, those living at a given society’s margins, as well as those in other social positions. The examples will include the myriad of personal constraints and laws or policies that differentially disadvantage particular racial/ethnic, immigrant groups or sexual minorities by creating barriers to education, employment and other routine activities, with far-reaching consequences for all aspects of individuals’ lives. Constraints can also affect the personal agency, life chances, and health of advantaged groups in more subtle ways.
Papers for the session will examine how the options that an individual has, or can afford to choose from, are socially and economically patterned in ways that contribute to differential exposures and risks, thereby shaping life chances across various health conditions and outcomes.


E-Health and Informaticization of Medicine

Session Organizer(s)
Gul SECKIN, University of North Texas, USA,

Session in English

The eHealth (Electronic Health) technologies have produced a revolutionary change in availability and amount of health and medical information accessible to patients. Sometimes referred to as the informaticization of medicine, a whole new field of knowledge around medical information and communication technologies has emerged.
There is an estimated over 1,500,000 smartphone applications, out of which nearly 14,000 are health applications available for user download in Apple’s application store. A search in 2012 for health and fitness yielded nearly 16,000 applications for Android consumers. The number of people who downloaded health-related smartphone applications reached 247 million in 2012 around the globe. Research studies indicate that eight in ten people browse the Internet for health information and/or support, which makes it one of the most common online activities.
This widespread use of the Internet and mobile health applications provides a new technology-based platform for interactive health service provision. The purpose of this session is to explore the synergy between information and communication technologies, health, and medicine. This proposed session aims to map out the current state of knowledge in this rapidly-growing body of research in the following areas:

The proposed session will be in a roundtable session format.


Exploring the Nexus of Health, Religion/Spirituality and Healing

Session Organizer(s)
Alex ASAKITIKPI, Monash South Africa, South Africa,

Session in English

The variability of health, illness, and medicine in different socio-cultural contexts is well known and acknowledged in sociology, but what is less known is the relationship between health and the various modes of healing adopted by human groups, especially those in non-western societies. Until recently, non-biomedical forms of healing had been relatively confined to non-western societies.
However, the ubiquitous forms of non-western healing practices in western societies (referred to as alternative medicine or holistic medicine) today suggest their increasing popularity and appeal as an important alternative to biomedicine.
Within the context of dwindling economic fortunes, invasive biomedicines, and the need for wholeness, it is appropriate to examine the complex and often misunderstood relationship between health, religion/spirituality and the healing process.
In this session, we will explore this grey area of health and medicine. We invite theoretical and/or empirical papers that focus on any aspect of the following areas:


Gender, Health and Migration in a Transnational Context: Rights, Policies, Accessibility

Session Organizer(s)
Mara TOGNETTI, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy,
Lia LOMBARDI, ISMU Foundation (Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità), Italy,

Session in English French

With reference to the theoretical and epistemological approaches of sociology this session aims to relate the socio-economic determinants with social policies and the health status of migrant people. Given that the dimension of health is a key factor to understand the system of inequalities, both social and gender ones, the aim of the session is to show the relationship between health, gender and migration highlighting, through a transnational perspective, both the social construction of gender inequality and the “multiple discrimination” due to the overlap of inequalities related to gender, migrant status and social conditions.
Another objective of this session is to understand the role of policies for containing gender and health inequalities. In particular, we analyze the rights of migrant women (regular, undocumented, refugees, nomads) in different countries, their ability to access health care services, including reproductive health (childbirth, abortion, female cancer prevention, etc.). Therefore, we invite scholars and researchers to participate in this session by sending theoretical and/or empirical contributions dealing with one of the following topics:


Integrating Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Healthcare

Session Organizer(s)
Mike SAKS, University Campus Suffolk, United Kingdom,
Nelson BARROS, UNICAMP, Brazil,
Nicola GALE, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom,

Session in English

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become ever more important in many modern societies – with a fast-growing range of users, increasing numbers of practitioners and a rising proportion of healthcare spending on this area. At the same time, though, in terms of potential philosophical and other conflicts between CAM and medical orthodoxy, it is very important that “the baby is not thrown out with the bathwater” and that CAM is employed in a selective and synergistic way with the best of conventional health care to the benefit of the public.
This leads to several questions about how this might be achieved through integration in order to attain a desirable future: What is the current comparative evidence base? How methodologically should the relative strengths and weaknesses of CAM and medical orthodoxy be evaluated? Should there be greater coordination of the providers of CAM and orthodox medicine? What issues are posed in these circumstances by multi-professional working and communication? How should CAM and orthodox medicine be funded in terms of public and private sector resourcing? Should CAM practitioners be integrated into mainstream health services? Or is it more effective if CAM is integrated through delivery by orthodox practitioners? What implications does this have for education and regulation? Under what conditions might integration be most likely to occur? And, crucially, how might this impact on users?
Abstracts are very welcome on these questions and related themes, focused on one or more countries, in this regular paper presentation session.


Migration of Physicians and Nurses: Global Health (Non) Governance?

Session Organizer(s)
Joana SOUSA RIBEIRO, University of Coimbra, Portugal,
Yuko HIRANO, Nagasaki University, Japan,

Session in English

Labour migration of physicians and nurses is a challenge to the regulation of health in its national scope. The expansion of professional jurisdiction not only reconfigures trust, autonomy and occupational competence, but also expands the role of institutional actors (among others, professional associations, government agencies and training institutions).
We welcome presentations based on the analysis of the recruitment and professional reskilling process of internationally educated physicians and nurses, notably involving Asian countries.
International recruitment, bilateral agreements, supranational regulations, governmental and non-governmental programs of professional skilling are explored in view of the globalization of the labor market in health, the transnational dimension of qualifications and the international process of health inequalities (re)production.
Given the current economic and financial European crisis, it is of particular relevance the study of the mechanisms of “care” and its intersection with employment, education and migration regimes.


Missing in Action? Sociological Analysis and the Provision of Public/Private Healthcare

Session Organizer(s)
Karen WILLIS, ACU, Australia,
Fran COLLYER, The University of Sydney, Australia,

Session in English

Healthcare systems across the world are grappling with the challenges of healthcare provision, in particular with the increasing private provision of healthcare services. For many years, healthcare has been viewed as a public good, but this has been replaced with the view that services should be delivered by the market. Surprisingly, there has been little sociological analysis of the implications of this change for patients, providers and governments. This is despite increased concern in the media about rising inequalities in patient access to healthcare and deteriorating health outcomes as public resources are withdrawn or redirected. We are therefore aiming for a lively debate about our field of medical sociology/health sociology and its potential, in particular:

We invite two types of papers – full papers reporting on theoretical or empirical research; or brief reports – reflections or work in progress on contemporary issues in health/medical sociology, the focus remaining on the public/private healthcare nexus. Participants are asked to specify whether their paper is “brief” or “full”.


On Social Plasticity: The Transformative Power of Pharmaceuticals on Health, Nature and Identity

Session Organizer(s)
Johanne COLLIN, University of Montreal, Canada,

Session in English

Drugs can be envisaged as major devices of a pharmaceutical regime constituted of networks of actors, institutions and artefacts as well as cognitive structures (Williams et al., 2011). However, although pharmaceuticals are considered as “[t]he most dominant and portable mechanisms of biomedicalisation” (Clark et al., 2010), most studies focus either on macro-analyses of structures, institutions and collective actors that produce, market and use pharmaceuticals or on micro-analyses of specific drug trajectories.
The goal of this regular session is thus to invest the interzone between these two major trends by exploring, through case studies as well as theoretical papers, the role of medications per se in transforming perspectives and shaping contemporary subjectivities (Collin, accepted).
Many studies on medicalization have shown how drugs contribute to the blurring of boundaries between health and illness. However, we suggest that drugs also play a major role in the process of molecularisation through enhancement and the transformation of what is considered natural and artificial in everyday life, and in the shifting of the border that separates ethically acceptable extensions of corporal limits from the inacceptable ones. Finally, through biosocialisation, medications would play a significant role in the blurring of boundaries between conformity and resistance to dominant social norms.
To develop a theoretical and empirical reflection around this interzone, we aim at soliciting communications on the role of pharmaceuticals in relation to:


RC15 Business Meeting

Session in English


Same-Sex Families and Health

Session Organizer(s)
Justin DENNEY, Rice University, USA,

Session in English

Decades of research on families and health have provided evidence of the importance of family relationships and resources for individual well-being. These studies span outcomes related to daily stress, health behaviors, and mortality and focus on adults in marital and other kinds of relationships, as well as their children.
Largely missing from this body of work are systematic, population-level studies of health and well-being for children and adults in same-sex families, broadly construed as families composed of two men or two women and, in some cases, their children. A growing number of governments around the world are debating the legal recognition of same-sex unions and what they might mean for health. Meanwhile, dozens of countries legally recognize same-sex unions.
This session invites all submissions that contribute to understanding the health and well-being of family members of same-sex families, legally recognized and not, across the world to help fill this important void in the families and health literature.


Towards a Comparative Perspective on Citizens’ and Civil Society Organizations’ Participation in Healthcare

Session Organizer(s)
Benjamin MARENT, Ludwig Boltzman Institute, Austria,

Session in English

Across the world, citizens’ and civil society organizations’ participation in healthcare decision-making and research is increasingly implemented as method of good governance. Participation is a complex phenomenon that is practiced in different forms leading to diverse experiences and outcomes.
Against this background, we invite theoretical contributions that improve our understanding of this phenomenon as well as empirical studies that reveal the challenges and consequences of participatory practices. Contributions may address the following questions:

By encouraging a systematic discussion of different participatory practices and their outcomes the session intends to disclose a step towards a comparative perspective that may offer new ways to conceptualize, investigate and generate evidence on citizens’ and civil society organizations’ participation in healthcare decision-making and research.


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description and the scheduled day/time.

Aging Society and New Welfare Policies

Joint session of RC11 Sociology of Aging [host committee] and RC15 Sociology of Health


Aging, Health and Life Course: Theoretical Issues and Methodological Problems

Joint session of RC11 Sociology of Aging and RC15 Sociology of Health [host committee]


Drug Use and Local and Global Public Health Policies: New Tensions, Complementation or Changes to Not Change?

Joint session of RC15 Sociology of Health [host committee] , RC42 Social Psychology and RC49 Mental Health and Illness


Health Inequalities in Comparative Perspective

Joint session of RC15 Sociology of Health [host committee] and RC20 Comparative Sociology


Language on Health and Disease

Joint session of RC25 Language and Society [host committee] and RC15 Sociology of Health


The Future Health Workforce We Need: Professions, Policy and Planning

Joint session of RC15 Sociology of Health [host committee] and RC52 Sociology of Professional Groups


Welfare States and Health Care Systems: In Search for Solutions to Social Inequalities in Health

Joint session of RC15 Sociology of Health [host committee] and RC19 Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy





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International Sociological Association
April 2015