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Health Inequalities In Uk Essay

1450 words - 6 pages

Health inequalities are the differences in health status or the distribution of health determinants between different population groups. This essay will describe how sociologists explain the health differences in the UK in terms of class, gender and ethnicity.

In UK social class, seems to be influential in determining one's health. The Black Report (1980) and the Acheson Report (1998) have found a causal link between social class and the incidence of ill health. According to Haralambos and Holborn (2013) findings of these reports were that the gap in inequalities of health between lower and higher social classes was widening. It was also found that health standards were directly ...view middle of the document...

The social constructionist explanation suggests that morbidity figures are misleading. According to Taylor et al, (2007) this is due to methodological inadequacies or due to the socially constructed nature of key concepts. One social constructionist approach, the labelling perspective, suggests that a disease is applied differently to people of different groups. It suggests that doctors are stereotypical and will readily apply disease labels to some group of people than others. According to Taylor et al, (2007) from a labelling perspective, different social classes are vulnerable to being differently labelled. Scheff (1975 cited Taylor et al, 2007) argued that in mental health people from lower classes are most likely to be labelled mentally ill. Therefore, people from the lower class dominate the mentally ill group because doctors are ready to interpret their behaviour as mentally ill.

According Taylor et al (2007), the cultural explanation focuses on the individual as a unit of analysis, emphasising unthinking and irresponsible behaviour as the moving determinant of health status. People harm themselves or their children by the excessive consumption of harmful commodities, refine foods, tobacco, alcohol, or by lack of exercise or by the under utilisation of preventive healthcare, vaccination, antenatal surveillance or contraception. According to Taylor et al, (2007) in the cultural explanations, health-damaging behaviours are voluntary. According to Haralambos and Holborn (2013) people from lower classes may be more likely to engage in unhealthy lifestyle which has a long-term effect on their health and lead to early death. Smoking will lead to heart disease and cancers and fatty foods will lead to obesity and heart disease. Studies have shown that working class people are more likely to smoke, eat less fruit and vegetables, consume more sugary and fatty foods. All this leads to high levels of morbidity and mortality. Haralambos and Holborn (2010) mentions that critics to this approach argue that working class people are more likely to engage in this behaviour as a response to their circumstances.

The materialist explanation explains the relationship between class and health by emphasising the role of the economy. It focuses on the direct influence of poverty in the variation in rates of mortality. According to Haralambos and Holborn (2013) the poorer the person, the less chance they have of good health. According to Carstairs and Morris, (1989 cited Haralambos and Holborn 2013) the association between eating habits and ill health is due to lack of income to buy better quality foodstuffs. According to Taylor et al, (2007) wealthy people have access to private medical care, quality houses, good diet, easier retirement only to mention a few. People in higher social classes enjoy a better quality of life than those in lower social classes because they can afford it. According to Taylor et al, (2007) working class families...

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