In 1951, Talcott Parsons created a concept regarding sickness and the rights and obligations of those affected, it was a way to explain the rights and responsibilities of those that were ill. Parsons (1951, cited in Scarince, 2016) stated that people who are diagnosed with a medical condition or illness cannot fulfil the same duties/tasks as that of a fit and healthy person. Society adapted to this concept and allowed a reasonable amount of difference in expectations and behaviour than that expected from a healthy person. Parsons saw the sick role as a form of deviance (an action or behaviour that violates social norms) because an ill person supposedly had different behavioural patterns than that of a normal person. Healthy people are meant to be hard-working and productive, an ill person would not fulfil this criteria (Scarince, 2016).✓
A doctor or the authorities would have to approve whether an individual was ill, they were positively sanctioned, without this sanction any absence from work or school would be deemed unauthorised (deviant) however, if you were at home sick in bed this would be an authorised absence. A doctor or medical professional would have to certify the illness making it legitimate; legitimising the illness was proof that a person was actually sick and in need of medical intervention, this is the equivalent of a doctor's note today (Scarince, 2016).✓
Parsons (1951, cited in Scarince, 2016) stated that an individual has two rights and two responsibilities when they are ill, these were; that a patient has a right to not be blamed for their illness and a right to be given leeway with regards to normal expectations and obligations. ✓
It is the patient’s responsibility to make recovery a priority and they have a responsibility to seek appropriate treatment for their condition, by seeing a medical professional they are agreeing to becoming a ‘patient’. These rights and responsibilities are only in effect whilst the individual is ill and therefore may be temporary (Scarince, 2016).✓
Parsons work provided insight into an experience that affects society at some point in their lives however, would a person today find that their sickness/absence from work, matches Parsons description from 60 years ago? (Scarince, 2016).
Today an individual can self certify themselves sick for up to seven days before going to see a doctor, a doctor has to diagnose and certify the illness to make it legitimate (authorised) and you have to take a leave of absence if acutely ill or if you feel that you cannot fulfil the responsibilities and obligations of your role (FitForWork.Org, d.u.). ✓