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Sociology

Eeva Sointu
Associate Professor

email Send E-mail office Office: Tyler Annex 106 phone Phone: 585-3870

Eeva is an associate professor in the sociology department. She was born in Lapland in Northern Finland. Her studies took her to Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, where she completed a B.A. in religious studies, an M.A. in Religion, Culture and Society, and a Ph.D. in sociology. In 2006, Eeva ventured across the Atlantic to Northampton and Smith College where she teaches courses in Medical Sociology, Introduction of Sociology, Qualitative Methods, Sociology of Wellbeing, and Visual Sociology.

Eeva’s work as a sociologist of health and illness lies at the intersection of the sociologies of medicine, gender, embodiment and identity. In her scholarship and teaching, she emphasizes the centrality of identities for understanding social activity and underlines the legitimacy of social practices as socially, culturally and historically produced. Eeva’s scholarship has focused specifically on the use and practice of alternative and complementary medicines. This work emerges from fascination with configurations of legitimacy, power and meaning in the context of medicine and health. Her work is premised on locating health behavior and health practices in the broader social, cultural, institutional and historical contexts, as well as in relation to the gendered and classed identities of the people involved.

Her book, Theorizing Complementary and Alternative Medicines: Wellbeing, Self, Gender and Class (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) emerges from qualitative research into the use and practice of complementary and alternative medicines. She argues that although some of the use of complementary and alternative health practices relates to the failures of biomedicine in creating health, more than the physiological body - or biomedical health - is at stake in the rise of complementary and alternative medicines. One must also consider the values that are reproduced in this arena to understand the appeal and the significance of the holistic health domain. The alternative health arena is rising in importance because the key values captured in alternative and complementary medicines - values embodied in what can be called the discourse of wellbeing - make sense in relation to how people understand their selves and bodies.