The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to a sociological approach to Public Health. The course can be divided in two parts. In the first one, we analyze the impact of different social factors on the health of individuals and different communities. We use the social determinants of health framework to understand why Black and Latinx communities have worse overall health indicators, or how gender oppression translates into adverse health outcomes for women. Social class is recognized as a major determinant of health: an individual’s place in society, their role in the production process, and their situation within capitalist property relations conditions their habits, their ability to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and their access to quality health care.
In the second part of the course we take a deep dive into the madness of US Health Care. It is a well-known fact that the US health care system is the most expensive in the world and performs much worse than other systems spending roughly half as much per capita. A look into the different healthcare components and actors will allow the student to get a grasp of the “dysfunctionality” of US health care. The readings in class provide a framework and compelling empirical evidence to identify the economic interests lying behind the reluctance to implement a less expensive, more equitable, and more efficient health care system. We analyze on of the ‘single-payer alternatives’, Medicare for All.