Discussion Questions

  • What is the sick role as defined by sociologist Erving Goffman? What are our expectations of the ill in contemporary U.S. society? Do the responsibilities of the sick role vary by community or culture?

  • The chapter discussed the argument that some addictions are “medicalized” while others are “criminalized.” What is the difference? How might we explain why different addictions are labeled and approached in varying ways?

  • African Americans and Latinos in the United States experience worse health and higher mortality rates than their White and Asian American counterparts. What sociological factors help to explain this health gap?

  • The chapter looked at cigarettes and smoking through a sociological lens. Recall how we applied the functionalist and conflict perspectives to this topic, and try applying those perspectives to junk food, such as soda, candy, and fast food.

  • How is HIV/AIDS a sociological issue as well as a medical one? What are key sociological roots of the spread of this disease in communities and countries?