Basic assumptions in teaching medical sociology in medical schools: the case of West Germany

  • M. Pflanz
  • J. Siegrist


It is true and not true as well to say that medical sociology in Germany is a very new branch of sociological and of medical sub-disciplines. Although the term ‘medical sociology’ was not used in Germany before 1955, the idea itself has a long tradition in German medical thinking. We shall not attempt to delineate the whole development of thinking in an area which today we would call medical sociology, but we must mention two classics of medical sociology: the writings of Virchow and Salomon Neumann (around 1848) and the book by Müller-Lyer ‘Sociology of Suffering’ (Soziologie der Leiden 1914). About the same time a more pragmatic approach was chosen by Alfred Grotjahn, the great man of German social hygiene, who emphasized the necessity of a union between social hygiene, and sociology and economics. The Swiss medical historian H. E. Sigerist was already using a sociological approach to the history of medicine when he was teaching at Leipzig, just as he did later in the United States. The most influential figure for an entire generation was probably Viktor von Weizsäcker, one of the most important promoters of medical sociology and psychosomatics in Germany from the early thirties until the years after World War II.


Medical Student Federal Republic Medical Faculty Social Medicine Corporate Rationalizer 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Pflanz
  • J. Siegrist

There are no affiliations available

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