Sharp, bold and engaging, this book provides a contemporary account of why medical sociology matters in our modern society. Combining theoretical and empirical perspectives, and applying the pragmatic demands of policy, this timely book explores society's response to key issues such as race, gender and identity to explain the relationship between sociology, medicine and medical sociology. Each chapter includes an authoritative introduction to pertinent areas of debate, a clear summary of key issues and themes and dedicated bibliography. Chapters include: * social theory and medical sociology * health inequalities * bodies, pain and suffering * personal, local and global. Brimming with fresh interpretations and critical insights this book will contribute to illuminating the practical realities of medical sociology.