Social Epidemiology

The study of the distribution of disease within a population according to social factors (such as social class, use of alcohol, or unemployment) rather than biological factors (such as blood pressure or genetics).

social insurance See sickness funds.

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social networks The webs of social relationships that link people to each other as friends, relatives, acquaintances, coworkers, and so on.

sociological perspective View of the world that focuses on social patterns rather than individual behaviors.

Social Security Federally funded program that, since 1935, has provided financial assistance to formerly employed adults with mental or physical disabilities as well as to elderly adults, blind individuals, and children with disabilities.

social stress theory A theory holding that lower-class persons have higher rates of mental illness because of the stresses of lower-class life.

sociological model of disability A model that defines disabilities as restrictions or lack of ability to perform activities resulting largely or solely either from social responses to bodies that fail to meet social expectations or from assumptions about the body reflected in the social or physical environment.

sociological model of illness A way of thinking about illness, common among sociologists, that argues that illness is a subjective, moral, and political label. It is subjective in that individuals may reasonably differ on whether something should be labeled illness. It is moral in that those labeled ill are often regarded as inferior to others. It is political in that some groups have more power than others to decide what should be defined as illness.


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