Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) was a famous American sociologist involved with analyzing the performance of societies and the roles of individuals within it. He put his theories into a series of books on sociology.
His influence towards the practice of medicine was in addressing the "Sick role" concept. Parsons argued that society must control and prevent sickness amongst its populace to secure its functionality. The populace is controlled, or channeled/conditioned, by "social norms" into a working system.
1). exemption from work roles
2). lack of moral culpability for sickness
3). incapable of overcoming it alone
4). expert help to be sought
Our lecturer seemed rather proud of Parsons, she even put his "Sick Role' up on the exam. Although I really doubt the importance of his contribution to medicine. I think beyond the "system" there is a basic human desire to save one's kin...etc and hence a supply of doctors and hospitals arise out of the society's demand for them. The more interesting question is, in a theocratic society, how the thresholds of healers interfere with the divine healing theories theocracies usually support. M-hmm.