The Social Construction Illness |

 The Social Construction Illness

The Social Construction Illness

The social construction of illness is the social meaning of the condition. For instance, when a physician diagnosis a person human condition as the illness, the sick person changes his behavior and a social state is added. Some illnesses though in most cases taken for granted have some social or cultural meaning attributed to them, some illnesses are stigmatized while others are not, and some are considered as disability while others are contested. In short illness has consequences independent from any biological effect.

Chronic illness such as diabetes, cancer, Asthma, Arthritis and HIV/AIDS among others as well as disabilities have been found to be strongly associated with the social class position. They have also been found to be  associated with negative metaphorical connotations, for instance, cancer metaphorical meanings are that it’s evil or repressive which highly affect those suffering cancer. (Gussow Zachary, 1968) carried out a research examining the impact of stigmatized diseases such as epilepsy, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and mental illness, they identified how some illness became stigmatized and how the individuals managed that stigma for instance in case of HIV/AIDS research showed that stigma limits access to treatment as well as affecting relationship and identity (Fox N. J., 2005). From the research, they found out that nothing inherent about a condition that makes it stigmatizing but rather the social response to the condition or type of individual suffering makes the condition stigmatized.

Previous research has also shown how people suffering chronic diseases have tried to make sense of their illness and reclaim their self-esteem by trying to make the context of their personal and social relationship, employment status, the religious and cultural belief among others (Erving., 1963). Chronic illness prompts a reevaluation of one former life and creation of a new illness identity such as cancer survivor. Some lay people have even joined illness social based movements to generate knowledge about their condition for instance million of American women identifies themselves as breast cancer survivors.


Erving., G. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity.Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice-Hall.

Fox N. J., W. K. (2005). The ‘Expert Patient’: Empowerment or Medical Dominance? The Case of Weight Loss, Pharmaceutical Drugs and the Internet.” . social science and medicine , 60:1299–1309.

Gussow Zachary, T. G. (1968). “Status, Ideology and Adaptation to Stigmatized Illness: The Case of Leprosy.” . human organization , 27:316–25.

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