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How do we understand health in relation to society? What role does culture play in shaping our experiences of, and orientation to, health and illness? How do we understand medicine and medical treatment within a sociological framework?

Trust in Medicine
Trust in medicine
Jonathan Gabe

The concept of trust has been a prominent and recurrent theme in both social theory and medical sociology. From a sociological standpoint it is best seen as a form of social action, involving individuals or institutions in a social relationship rather than a mental state. According to Sztompka (1999), trust involves an ‘optimistic bet’ about the unknown, contingent actions of others and, as such, involves a degree of uncertainty. As with all bets, there is a chance of losing which may create distrust.

Much of the work of social theorists (for example, Luhmann, 1979; Giddens, 1990; Beck, 1992) has revolved ...

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