Pragmatism and medical sociology: Three precepts

Eliza Brown, Iddo Tavory

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


    While medical sociology has long incorporated insights from pragmatist philosophy, recent contributions call for a more explicit engagement with this tradition. Complementing Greenhalgh and Engebretsen's (2022) call for a pragmatist analysis of public health policymaking and crisis, we systemize medical sociology's engagement with pragmatism. We suggest three precepts of pragmatist philosophy as they relate to medical sociology: First, a focus on consequences in action, or understanding medical phenomena through what is done rather than established definitions; Second, problem solving, or how medical actors move between habit and creativity; And third, negotiation of meaning, or analyzing patient-provider communication through ongoing action and interpretation. Such systematization, we argue, would enrich both new and existing topics in medical sociology, from medicalization to mask-wearing.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number116640
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    StatePublished - Mar 2024

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • History and Philosophy of Science


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