The Sociology of Health Inequalities

Course Description

The course begins by examining health from a population perspective, comparing what types of diseases are most prevalent in countries at different income levels. You will be introduced to concepts and theories from demography for understanding how countries’ disease burdens transition from being characterized primarily by infectious diseases to chronic illnesses. Particular attention will be paid to countries where this transition is ongoing—i.e., in low- and middle-income countries that face a “double burden” of disease. In addition to this “macro” perspective, the course will introduce students to Fundamental Cause Theory to understand how social conditions function as underlying causes of health inequality.

The course will cover several major stratifying dimensions of health. We will read and review research that examines how gender, race/ethnicity, occupation, migration, and neighborhoods produce and reproduce health outcomes. We will also pay particular attention to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for different groups of people in the United States and globally.

You will be exposed to key challenges in data, measurement, and reporting of health inequality. The course will introduce students to sources of population and health data, provide opportunities to actively engage with readings from excerpts and books, as well as opportunities to express ideas in writing. The course will culminate in a 15-minute project presentation in which students will identify and analyze a population health problem. Students will be encouraged to consider how theory and data limitations enable or constrain the real-world feasibility of solving these problems.

At the end of the course, you will:
• Understand health inequality from a sociological perspective,
• Be familiar with major population health challenges in both high- and low- and middle-income countries,
• Understand the significant stratifying dimensions of health, and
• Use this knowledge to analyze and present on a contemporary health problem.


There are no prerequisites for this course. Students with interests in medicine, public health, sociology, and global problems of health and development will find the course of interest.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 11, 2022 - July 22, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 8:30A-11:20A
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Pablo Kokay Valente
Course Number: 10177