The state of the national economy has a profound effect on career interests and the choices
of prospective job seekers. This is reflected in part by the variation in the number of people
seeking admission to vocational schools, colleges, universities, and professional schools at
different periods in time. The variable economic cycle also influences, to some extent, those
considering health-care careers. Nevertheless, the aging population has greatly increased
the demand for professionals and paraprofessionals in the health-care field.
Our first preface in 1993 emphasized that this book was A, not, The Sociology of
Mental Health and Illness. Today, more than ever, it is quite a risk to write ‘The
Sociology’ of anything. Moreover, as the wide-ranging references listed at the
end of the book indicate, we continue to draw our material from sociology but
also many other sources, including psychology and psychiatry. Sociological
analyses of our topic are not offered only by sociologists.
The aim of this book is to bring together the field of media studies with
that of the sociology of health and illness (SHI). As a sociologist concerned
with health matters, becoming interested a few years ago in media
representations of illness and health-care topics, I noticed early on in my
studies that SHI had not kept up with developments in media studies.
But unless you’ve given serious thought to who is targeted by your outreach efforts, chances are
you’re missing some of the very people you could most help. The reasons for this are many, and
complex, but one of the central reasons is culture.
Culture is a shared way of doing things that are learned by a group of people. A “cultural
community” is a group of people linked together through a common sense of belonging or
membership. People share values, beliefs, and ways of doing things.