Health Social Movements: Advancing Traditional Medical Sociology Concepts

  • Phil Brown
  • Rachel Morello-Frosch
  • Stephen Zavestoski
  • Laura Senier
  • Rebecca Gasior Altman
  • Elizabeth Hoover
  • Sabrina McCormick
  • Brian Mayer
  • Crystal Adams
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Over the last decade, a growing number of social scientists have turned their attention to the study of activism around health issues. Health social movements (HSMs) have pressed the institution of medicine to change in dramatic ways, embracing new modes of healthcare delivery and organization. Health activists have also pushed medicine to evolve by connecting their health concerns to other substantive issues such as social and environmental justice, poverty, and occupational or environmentally induced diseases. HSMs therefore serve as an important bridge, connecting the institution of medicine to other social institutions. In similar fashion, the study of HSMs has motivated medical sociology to develop new tools and theoretical perspectives to understand these alterations in the medical landscape. Medical sociologists stand to learn a great deal about the institution of medicine by observing it as it comes into conflict with patients and activists around issues of health care delivery, science and policy, and regulatory action. This broad sweep of interests must be systematized, which is our project here.


Breast Cancer Social Movement Environmental Justice Illness Experience Black Panther Party 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Alison Cohen, Alissa Cordner, Mercedes Lyson, and Ruth Simpson for their comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phil Brown
    • 1
  • Rachel Morello-Frosch
  • Stephen Zavestoski
  • Laura Senier
  • Rebecca Gasior Altman
  • Elizabeth Hoover
  • Sabrina McCormick
  • Brian Mayer
  • Crystal Adams
  1. 1.Department of SociologyBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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