The sociology of health and medicine


The objective of this class is to approach the concept of inequality from the perspective of health. The social nature of health inequalities being traditionally ignored or denied, we will focus on how they have come to be recognized and how they are addressed today. We will study the mechanisms of production of inequalities in health care practices but also through the choices of orientation of social protection.  We will highlight the ethical, political, and social challenges raised by the fight against this type of inequality. Each theme will be illustrated with current examples. History, epidemiology, anthropology, law, and political science will be used to illustrate these multidimensional phenomena. Our reflection will be based on the central hypothesis that health inequalities that result in early death, physical fragility, or exposure to various risks contribute strongly to the reproduction of social inequalities.

Recommended Prerequisite(s)

Knowledge in social sciences and social history (France 19th and 20th centuries) and an interest in public health policies and social protection.


  • Castel, R., L’insécurité sociale. Qu’est-ce qu’être protégé ?, Paris, Seuil, 2003.
  • Leclerc A., Fassin D., Grandjean H., et al., Inégalités sociales et santé, Paris, La découverte, 2000.
  • Mc Keown, The role of Medicine : dream, mirage or nemesis, Oxford, Basic Blackwell, 1979.
  • Morelle A., La défaite de la santé publique, Paris, Flammarion, 1996.
    Niewiadmski, C., et al., (2008), Lutter contre les inégalités sociales de santé : Politiques publiques et pratiques professionnelles, Rennes, EHESP.

Additional information

Class delivered by Emmanuel Langlois.

In brief

Year Fifth year

Teaching languageFrench

Teaching term Six-monthly

Number of hours 18.0

Teaching activityLecture course

ValidationContinuous assessment

Mandatory teaching