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Abstract

This paper provides a review of research and debate in the held of chronic illness. It first outlines some general features of a sociological approach, and then goes on to use recent empirical studies of chronic illness to illustrate some of the main stages involved. These include: onset and the problems of explanation and legitimation, the impact of treatment, and the development of adaptive responses. An attempt is made to distinguish the use of the terms‘coping’, ‘strategy’and ‘style’in describing adaptation. The paper argues that a sociological approach needs to recognise the positive actions people take, as well as the problems they face. In this way, diversity in managing chrome illness, and the continuing need for a person-based approach to sociological work, are underlined