It is considered fundamentally fair for sick people to enjoy certain privileges. One such privilege is the allowance to be absent from normal social roles that they play every day. A mother can be excused from making the early morning breakfast. A banker can get a holiday for a day or two. The list continues and such a circumstance then becomes a right that a sick person has. At the same time, sick people are generally not burdened by society. People accept their condition and do not hold their behavior against them.
Thus, sick people then enjoy the right to be blame free for their conditions. Parson added another clause to the rights of the sick person. He claimed that they also have the right to be cared for. This justifies the demands that sick people normally make to their family members or close society members to care for them. When a mother asks her husband to make breakfast when she is ill, it is her right to enjoy a longer time in bed, according to Parson. Duties: Parson had to make his theory neutral to the workings of society.
Thus, his obligations and duties clause of the sick role theory tries to focus on the responsibilities of the sick person. For instance, Parson claimed that it is imperative that the person who is sick and performing the sick role should make sure that he or she knows that this state is undesirable. Thus, to get back to the desirable state (that of being well), he or she must work towards getting well. Thus, getting well and out of illness becomes a responsibility on the sick person.
Similarly, this entails listening to the doctor, having routine checks and taking the medications prescribed from a suitable medical officer. It is obvious that both rights and duties are interdependent and deeply linked. If the sick person does not follow his duties, there will be no reason for society to give him his or her rights while he is sick. It is note worthy to mention that though the “sick role” is very important, Parson stressed the need for social regulation in a lot of it. One of the reasons given by Parson was that sick people are more vulnerable.
They easily approach any form of health they can find and trust doctors and medical aid givers enormously. Any form of abuse would lead to extreme exploitation of the patient. Similarly, gatekeepers, such as doctors and other aid givers must also take into account that a person who was sick initially might not want to return to his normal state. The easy life style that the “sick role” offers might be too tempting for people to change back. In such circumstances, it is essential that someone regulates and keeps a check over the functioning of the sick role. Criticism:
As with other theories, Parson too faced a lot of negative feedback on his views and compilations. One of the most basic problems with the theory is that it is a social threat. The very idea that being sick can get you out of anything is quite dangerous. It not only allows people to evade responsibility but breeds a system corrupt with inefficiency and ineffectiveness in society. Sick people can stay sick for a very long day and can escape the blame easily. Similarly, the theory promotes that fact that the sick person actively accepts his role as a sick person.
However, in many circumstances such as Aids or other stigmatized diseases, a sick person might not want to accept this role. Thus, creating a void situation and rejecting the idea of a sick role. Furthermore, doctor-patient relationships are not equal in most cases and require a high degree of trust. In such circumstances, the issue of social equitability and fairness also come into play. Will a doctor treat a millionaire the same way as he treats a person without a house? Social class, gender and ethnicity all play their roles in determining this relationship, thus making it quite questionable.
Finally, one major criticism is related to the sustenance of the sick role. In case of chronic diseases, it is hard to create a system like Parson describe. One, in form of chronic sickness the patient even experiences a sense to be independent rather than being a burden. Similarly, for society to allocate unconditional resources to caring for the chronically sick, its progress would be seriously undermined. Sociological perspectives on Illness and health systems: Conflict perspective: According to the conflict theory, health related resources are very scarce.
This means that some people will be able to get health facilities while some will be deprived. Either way, people must fight for the resources they wish to use. Thus, the everlasting conflict. The theory outlines basic problems that exist in everyday life. Many people are deprived of good medical facilities simply because they are not in the same income bracket as those of the elite. Thus, this explains why research has consistently shown that the poor have a much higher mortality rate.