Ri An asked us to each name a medical condition observed in the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. When it was my turn, I said “delusion”. Murmurs broke out in the class. Voices emerged and explained that delusion was not a medical condition, but a symptom. There was nothing else I had that hadn’t been said, so I admitted as such and passed the turn. I certainly did no favours to Sociology here in this NUS SC2211 tutorial class dominated by Nursing students.
It was my second semester in NUS. It was helmed by A/P Paulin Straughan, whose Open House lecture on love was my memorable entree into Sociology. She gave a grand introduction to the differing strengths of her co-lecturer and 4-tutor team, and urged the packed LT9 of students to make full use of access to these resources. I already knew Ri An from my first semester, and he remains arguably my favourite tutor. A pity then that both have left NUS.
But I made minimal use of those resources. How content I was just musing over Bruce Link’s fundamental social cause theory or the social construction of medical categories! In small-group tutorial discussions, a few Nursing girls were very keen on hearing my sociological perspectives, but I was rather unprepared to take that role. It was fitting that I messed up the exam, because while I was at my peak level of curiosity, my impressionistic approach to learning yielded no coherent clarity.
I particularly enjoyed the trip to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, for which I wrote a reflection essay that Ri An praised, but lamented he could not score me higher on because I did no literature review (not required, but others did…). He recommended me to read Clifford Geertz’s thick description, which I did to great satisfaction that summer.
What made this module stand out was Ri An’s determination to stand at the crossroads of the Sociology and Nursing perspectives. Optional articles he emailed us on sociological imperialism effectively planted the first seeds of doubt in my relationship to Sociology, which helped me take distance from its knowledge. He was an exemplary resource, and may you find your equivalent in your journey of learning!
Personal Faves of NUS SC2211
Bruce Link/Jo Phelan – Social Conditions as Fundamental Causes of Disease (1995)
Bruce Link – The Production of Understanding (2003)
Peter Conrad/Deborah Potter – From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories (2000)
Jeffrey Oliver – The Myth of Thomas Szasz (2006)
PM Strong – Sociological Imperialism and the Profession of Medicine (1979)
Other Highlights of NUS SC2211: Social Construction
Carl May et al. – Framing the Doctor-Patient Relationship in Chronic Illness: A Comparative Study of General Practitioners’ Accounts (2004)
Bruce Link et al. – A Modified Labeling Theory Approach to Mental Disorders: An Empirical Assessment (1989)
Peter Conrad – The Discovery of Hyperkinesis: Notes on the Medicalization of Deviant Behaviour (1975)
Other Highlights of NUS SC2211: Social Inequalities
Dennis Andrulis – Access to Care is the Centerpiece in the Elimination of Socioeconomic Disparities in Health (1998)
Davison/Frankel/Smith – The Limits of Lifestyle: Re-assessing ‘Fatalism’ in the Popular Culture of Illness Prevention (1992)
Bert Uchino – Social Support and Health: A Review of Physiological Processes Potentially Underlying Links to Disease Outcomes (2006)
I took NUS SC2211 in AY14/15 Sem 2, under A/P Paulin Straughan and Dr Juyeon Kim, and was tutored by Mr Quek Ri An.