When we look back at the sociological studies relating to medical and health areas research that has been done by professional sociologists occured only after the period of World War II. This is the case even in America where the sociological field is well developed. But if we consider them as the studies that treated health and disease in relation to social factors, we can trace them back to the sixteen century of the western world. After that period, topics like occupational diseases or social environment have been studied by some physicians and social reformers and so on. So in this paper, I review the developments of these studies by deviding them into two areas ; that is one is from medicine that has expanded its interest to. social factors, the other is from sociology that has developed its interst into health and medical area. The reason why medicine came to join the field of sociology was due to the change of disease patterns and medical practitioners coming to accept sociologists as an assistants to analyse the social factors. Contrary to this, sociology began to have interest in the medical area mainly because social factors of disease have acquired a greater importance and also sociologists intended to use the medical area as the test field for their theories. Nevertheless, if we wish to realise the real effective cooperation between medicine and sociology, we should concentrate our aim to the solutions of health and disease problem, not to make use of other dicipline only as a tool or stick to our own dicipline. In Japan so far, medical theories have been limited to biological aspect to catch up to the more advanced Western Medicine. Also sociology in Japan, so far, has attached no importance to empirical and practical studies. But the situation has begun to change little by little as actual conditions of health and disease in Japan came to be more related with social factors.
There have been various kinds of diseases and a lot of patients for a long time in Japan. Before the Edo Era, there were mainly acute infectious diseases and during the first half of the Meiji Era, acute infectious diseases became increasingly prevalent. Then, chronic infectious diseases such as veneral disease, tuberculosis and leprosy became a big question throughout the later part of the Meiji Era, the Taisho Era and early in the Showa Era. Today almost all infectious diseases have been conquered, but in their place, other difficult and troublesome diseases have appeared. They are so called adult diseases such as apoplexy, cancer, heart trouble etc. and social diseases such as occupational diseases, pollution diseases and ones caused by medicine or food. It should be pointed out that the lower classes have suffered most from the diseases throughout all these periods. A lot of patients have appeared in the lower classes and a family which has a patient in it is apt to be poorer and poorer after the attack of diseases. Especially, after the Meiji Era when capitalism was formed, diseases which have a close relation to capitalism became a problem. In this situation, most patients are in the lower classes, too. Since 1960's, there have appeared some diseases striking the middle and upper classes. However, we must consider the fact that families which have patients in them have a tendency to fall into poverty and the lower classes.
In this special issue on “Medical Sociology”, the author attempts to discuss the social scientific foundation and standpoint, in order to test the validity of so called “Medical Sociology” and, if possible, seek possible ways of development in this discipline in question. The author's discussion starts with the fundamental recognition that health care services are composed of labour, or labour processes. He, therefore, analyses labour and labour processes in health care services using such key concepts as three elements of labour (subject=health care worker, object=patient, and means of labour=medical tools, appliances and machines), two processes of labour (technological and organisational processes), and two factors of labour (which lead to the health care delivery system and the economic system of health care services). In addition to these fuudamental concepts, the historical background of development in capitalism (at least in Japan) is indispensable as an important social scientific standpoint. According to the above fundamental concepts and scientific standpoint, different phenomena and problems in the following sectors of health care services are discussed : (1) medical technology, (2) people's health and diseases, (3) health care delivery system, (4) health economy, (5) education for health care workers, (6) industries relating to health case services, etc. The strong dependency on private practice is a key factor to explain different traditional and contemporary problems in health care services in Japan. A new big trend in this area is the influence or invasion of monopoly capital by the pharmaceutical, computer and other medical engineering industries in support of.the government's policies, which is a typical phenomenon at the stage of state-monopoly capitalism. The author stresses that the sociologist, or the medical sociologist, should test the validity and look for new ways of “Medical Sociology” according to the above concepts, standpoint and discussions.
In these few years, “the sociology of health and medical problems” has been recognized as one of the important fields of sociology, among Japanese sociologists. The number of sociologists studing in this field are increasing, and their activities are developing in various directions. However, it seems that the methodology of this field is not yet well established. At the present stage, we must try to construct the methodology through theoretical discussion. Many sociologists regard “the sociology of health and medical problems” as a kind of applied sociology, and attempt to apply the general sociological theories to this field. It seems meaningless and unfruitful to apply the general theories to this field, because the established sociological theories have been constructed without regard to the problems of health, disease and medicine. For progress of “the sociology of health and medical problems”, we must start from the survey on the actual problems in the family, community, hospital and national society, and try to construct new theories capable of solving the problems. Through these effort, we can create new theories, not only in “the sociology of health and medical problems”, but also in other fields of sociology.
Today, some sociologists turn their attentions to the problem of “Infra-Structure”. We can find some examples of such a trend in “Positivismus Streit” and “Sociology of Sociology”. And some of them offer criticisms on Sociological Functionalism from the “Infra-Structural” point of view. They focus their minds on the view of human beings and a society which Sociological Functionalists have in mind. It is also important to consider each theories of organizations from the “Infra-Structural”. point of view. Until now, many sociologists of organizations have argued against Balance model of organizations and proposed Conflict model as the alternative to it. We must evaluate Conflict model positively in some aspects, but it is also true that it has some limits. In order to go beyond Conflict model, we think it necessary to turn our attentions to Action model of organizations from the “Infra-Structural” point of view. And here, we call such a procedure “Humanistic approach”. At the third paragraph, in order to find a frame of reference of organizations founded on such an approach, we consider Weber's theory of organizations. And there, we find his view of human beings who decide their actions according to their own value-judgements. We can learn many things from such a view of human beings, even today. It is very important for the valuation of theories to consider from the “Intra-Structural” point of view. But now, beyond such a consideration, it becomes necessary to build a frame of reference of organizations which consist of such human beings as can decide their actions by themselves.
This paper attempts to delineate cultural similarities and differences of the Thai and Japanese family and kin group. The description will provide a good illustration of different two bilateral societies. Although family as social groups may take various forms in Thailand and Japan, notion of family differs considerably to one another. The crucial point is that concept of family in Thailand can be understood as a radial extension of kinship core-an analytical unit consisting of parents and unmarried children, whereas Japanese concept, despite of the similar features at its basis, traditionally put an extreme emphasis on a lineal extension of kinship core and the term ie is used to refer to such a particular aspect of Japanese family. On these contrasting patterns of family mentioned above, in this paper Thai multihousehold compound and Japanese dozoku are analysed with respect to family partition and reorganization, structure and function, group-duration, and membership. Major difference is that the multihoushold compound is a special form of family which is organized simply around parent-child relationship and functions exclusively in the domestic realm, while dozoku is a kin group which transcends any forms of domestic group, being organized around descent among ie and functioning in the politico-jural realm as well. Since Japanese society lacks any unilinear principle, it would be reasonable to regard dozoku as a variation of non-unilinear descent group. The unique development of a descent group in the bilateral Japanese society could be brought to light by further comparative studies on the formation of family patterns of Thailand and Japan. A suggested hypothesis here is that Japanese family has ever developed with a direction toward strengthening lineality, whereas Thai family toward the opposit, weakening lineality if Thai had ever such notion of lineality.