Talcott Parsons Sick Role • Talcott Parsons says that being ‘sick’ is a socially conditioned role. • He says we behave in a certain way once we know we are ‘sick’.
Talcott Parsons’ Theory:The Sick Role • Parsons said that society applies ‘rules’ to people who are ill. • The sick person AND the society have obligations: • Sick Person: To seek appropriate medical help AND to want to get better. • Society: To excuse the sick person from normal social roles (eg worker, mother etc) AND to not hold the patient responsible for their condition AND for the sick person to be taken care of • These obligations must be fulfilled for the person to be allowed to be in the ‘sick role’.
Talcott Parsons’ Theory:The Sick Role The sick role is a functionalist theory If this person is sick then they cannot put into society in the way they usually do. Society But they can receive from society in the same way. The sick role is therefore seen as a deviant role. A functionalist would want the sick person to get better so they can start contributing to society again.
Talcott Parsons’ Theory:The Sick Role • If you were the person in the sick role, what roles would YOU be exempt from? • What would you be excused from having to do? Society
How many people don’t seek medical help? What reasons do they have? (Hint, think of the clinical iceberg from unit 7) Do sick people alwayswant to get better? Describe situations when they don’t. Analysing The Sick Role Lets go back to the obligations of the sick person: To seek appropriate medical help AND to want to get better.
Analysing The Sick Role Lets go back to the obligations of the society:To excuse the sick person from normal social roles AND to not hold the sick person responsible for their condition. Are people always excused from their normal social roles?List situations when they are not. Does society always not hold the person responsible for their condition? List situations when they are.