Sigrun Olafsdottir

Sigrun Olafsdottir

Sigrun Olafsdottir

Associate Professor

PhD, Indiana University (2007)

Sociology 267 | 617.358.0636 |

Curriculum Vitae


I received a B.A. in sociology from the University of Iceland in 1998, a M.A. in sociology from Indiana University in 2002 and a Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University in 2007. My research and teaching interests include medical sociology, sociology of mental health, comparative research, political sociology, sociology of culture, gender, and research methods. In my work, I seek to understand how institutional arrangements influence individual level outcomes. Frequently, but not exclusively, my focus is on health, illness, and healing. My dissertation, Medicalizing Mental Health: A Comparative View of the Public, Private, and Professional Construction of Mental Illness explores how medicalization, as a social process, is constructed and addressed at multiple avenues within and across nations. My other work focuses on how culture and politics impact issues of health, illness, and healing. For example, one stream of research focuses on how inequality and the welfare state impact health across nations with different social organization of welfare. Another stream of research explores the role of culture in understanding how and why individuals seek help for health problems.


Beckfield, Jason, Sigrun Olafsdottir and Ben Sosnaud. 2013. “Healthcare Systems in Comparative Perspective: Classification, Convergence, Institutions, Disparities, and Five Missed Turns. Annual Review of Sociology 39:127-46.

Beckfield, Jason, Sigrun Olafsdottir and Elyas Bakhtiari. 2013. “Health Inequalities in Global Context.” American Behavioral Scientist 57:1014-39.

Olafsdottir, Sigrun. 2012. “Social Construction and Illness.” Pp. 41-59 in Health Sociology on the Move: New Directions in Theory, edited by William C. Cockerham. New York, NY: Springer.

Olafsdottir, Sigrun. 2011. “Medicalization and Mental Health: The Critique of Medical Expansion, and a Consideration of how National States, Markets, and Citizens Matter.” Pp. 239-60 in The SAGE Handbook of Mental Health and Illness, edited by David Pilgrim, Anne Rogers, and Bernice A. Pescosolido. London, England: Sage Publications.

Olafsdottir, Sigrun and Jason Beckfield. 2011. “Health and the Social Rights of Citizenship: Integrating Welfare State Theory and Medical Sociology.” Pp 101-15 in Handbook of the Sociology of Health, Illness, and Healing: A Blueprint for the 21st Century, edited by Bernice A. Pescosolido, Jack K. Martin, Jane D. McLeod, and Anne Rogers. New York, NY: Springer.

Olafsdottir, Sigrun and Bernice A. Pescosolido. 2011. “Constructing Illness: How the Public in Eight Western Nations Responds to a Clinical Description of “Schizophrenia.” Social Science and Medicine, 73:929-38.

Olafsdottir, Sigrun and Bernice A. Pescosolido. 2009. “Drawing the Line: The Cultural Cartography of Utilization Preferences for Mental Health Problems.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 50:228-44.

Olafsdottir, Sigrun. 2007. “Fundamental Causes of Health Disparities: Stratification, the Welfare State, and Health in the United States and Iceland.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 48:239-53.