Sociology Of Health Essay

2610 words - 11 pages

Evaluate how inequalities of health are related to social class, gender and ethnicity.
Sociology is the scientific study of human social relations or group life. Other disciplines within the social sciences including economics, political science, anthropology, and psychology are also concerned with topics that fall within the scope of human society. Sociologists examine the ways in which social structures and institutions such as class, family, community, power and social problems such as crime and abuse influence society.

Social class is a major cause of inequalities in health, as sociologists believe that illnesses are socially constructed and dispersed. It seems that ...view middle of the document...

In so doing, we affect not only our lives, but also the lives of others and the social systems in which all of this take place. In most cultures, maleness is valued more highly than femaleness, and different criteria used to evaluate men and women. Several studies reveal that parents in most societies prefer male children (Williamson 1976; see also Corea et al. 1987; Hammer and McFerran 1988). In many parts of the world, infanticide—the killing of infants—is relatively common and is more likely to happen to female children (Korbin 1983).” It is difficult to know why women are treated differently; it is deeply rooted in culture. Many poorer families think that having a son is more helpful than a daughter. Not only will their sons preserve the family name, but also the poor often say that men are more intelligent than women.

Definitions of health and illness are very complex, in that there are cultural differences in how societies classify what are health and illness, the causes and the treatment. However because disease occurs in patterns it is thought that the conditions that determine health chances are social conditions. The way we think about health and illness is socially constructed as we are used to accepting the views of the medical profession. In modern medicine our bodies are seen as machines and doctors as mechanics, however studies by sociologists show that there is a range of environmental, political and behavioural factors that contribute to the construction of health and illness. In societies what appears to be abnormal or unacceptable is often labelled as disease, conflicts arise because what accounts for illness differs from place to place and from time to time. Numerous studies also show that a person social class strongly affects health and longevity, and that poverty and social class are the most important factors determining health. The lower ones social rank the more prone one is to early death. Beliefs about gender also influence attitudes to health and illness, as what is natural becomes medicalised when women s natural reproductive cycles and childbirth are often treated as disease
The Black report published in the 1980s showed that there was a pattern to the wealth and health experienced by the different social classes, based on occupation the report showed health inequality and suggested that professionals fare better than managers, managers fare better than skilled workers and so on down the line. However there are also theories that try explaining the results of the Black report, suggesting that the system of health care is not such an important factor as other life circumstances that affect the health of different classes. The artefact theory suggests that the use of surveys for statistics is inaccurate because it fails to take into consideration the clinical iceberg where it is unknown how many people suffer illness as they do not always report it also most health care happens in the home usually women...

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