Unit 2 – Sociology Of Healthintro

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Unit 2 – Sociology Of Healthintro

  1. 1. Unit 2 – Sociology of Health Introduction
  2. 2. Introduction to Unit 2 <ul><li>What you will learn about </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Definitions of health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Absolute, relative, cultural relativity, relativity within society </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social construction of health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Disability, stigma, doctor/patient role </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different sociological perspectives on health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Functionalist, Marxist, Interactionist </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Health inequalities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Class, gender, race and ethnicity, age </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Aims and Objectives <ul><li>What is Health? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Types of definition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Absolute V. Relative </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Cultural Relativity </li></ul><ul><li>Biomedical and traditional models of health and illness </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is Health? <ul><li>Working on your own write a definition of what health is. </li></ul><ul><li>When you have completed this task join with at least 2 other people and discuss your findings </li></ul><ul><li>Try to agree on a definition of health in your groups </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to feed back to the class! </li></ul>
  5. 5. Defining Health <ul><li>The World Health Organisation (WHO) define health as: </li></ul><ul><li>“ A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity” </li></ul><ul><li>(WHO, 1946) </li></ul><ul><li>This is an absolute definition of health </li></ul><ul><li>Absolute definitions mean that the definition is the same for everyone at all times </li></ul><ul><li>Rewrite the definition into your own words </li></ul>
  6. 6. Problems with this definition <ul><li>Who feels well all of the time? </li></ul><ul><li>If you had a cold would you consider yourself to be in ‘ill health’? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t different people have different ideas about what it is to be healthy or ill? </li></ul><ul><li>The WHO definition is Utopian (i.e. idealised) </li></ul><ul><li>The real world definition of health has to be something different </li></ul>
  7. 7. Relative Definitions of Health <ul><li>Relative definitions may vary from person to person </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different people will take a day off work for different reasons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One person may take a day off with a cold, whereas another may not see this as not being ill enough to miss work and soldier on </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Definitions vary between different groups in society </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dubos and Pines: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Good health may mean different things to an astronaut and to a fashion model, to a lumberjack and to member of the Stock Exchange. Their ways of life demand different levels of physical activity; their food requirements and stresses vary, and they are not equally vulnerable to all diseases” </li></ul><ul><li>(Dubos and Pines, 1980) </li></ul><ul><li>Definitions vary between different cultures/societies - this is called cultural relativity </li></ul>
  8. 8. Social Construction of Health <ul><li>If the definition of health can vary between cultures, or even within cultures then sociologist conclude that health and illness must be socially constructed </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning that culture defines what is healthy or unhealthy </li></ul><ul><li>What is healthy or unhealthy is negotiated by members of society </li></ul><ul><li>Definitions are informed by ideas about how the body works </li></ul>
  9. 9. Read the Collins handout and answer the following <ul><li>What are the 3 lay definitions of health according to Baxter? </li></ul><ul><li>What is a ‘sinking heart’? </li></ul><ul><li>How do young and older people define people differently? </li></ul><ul><li>Give one reason why men are less likely to visit the doctor </li></ul><ul><li>What does Blaxter mean when she calls the working class ‘fatalistic’? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Medical definitions <ul><li>Biomedical model </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developed over the past 300 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Idea that the body is like a machine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The body and the mind are separate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Like a machine it will deteriorate over time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It needs regular ‘servicing’ from medical professionals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Illness is always caused by something that can be identified </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Illness is cured by medicine or surgery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This gives members of the medical profession considerable power </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Traditional definitions <ul><li>Personalistic systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion drawn on for explanations of illness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shaman can cure illness – both priest and doctor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sickness can be interpreted supernaturally (evil spirits, curses) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Naturalistic systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Balance of the natural elements of the body </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ill health caused by imbalance of these elements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Found in ancient Greece, China </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cured by a physician or herbalist </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leslie </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mechanistic theories (Western medicine) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Equilibrium Theories (like the naturalistic system described above) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethical Theories ( health as a reward for living in a morally correct way and illness is a punishment for not doing so) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Measuring Health <ul><li>Morbidity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is to do with how ill someone feels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rates of ill health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is difficult to measure as people have different interpretations of their own well-being </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mortality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is to do with death </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Death rates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More reliable as it can be more easily measured </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Therefore this is often the way that health is measured </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Summary <ul><li>Relative definitions are better than absolute definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Health is a social construct as it means different things to different people/groups/societies </li></ul><ul><li>Western medicine is based on the biomedical model </li></ul><ul><li>Health is generally measured by looking at morbidity rates </li></ul>
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