What is health?• For the next couple of minutes discuss then write a definition of ‘health’
What is health?• Classic definition: – Absence of disease• World Health Organisation definition – "health is (…) a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity“ • http://www.who.int/about/en/
What influences health?• For the next couple of minutes discuss the factors that you think influence health?
What do you think influences health?• Nature and biology
What do you think influences health?• Nature and biology• Social factors
What do you think influences health?• Nature and biology• Lifestyle factors• Environmental factors
Sociological Approaches• Health and illness is not just natural or biological• Health and illnesses are shaped, distributed and understood in relation to social factors• Relationship between social structures (class, gender, ethnicity etc) and health
Sociological Approaches• Biological/genetic factors are always shaped by the social circumstances• Poverty creates illness rather than sick people become poor• Unhealthy ‘lifestyles’ are shaped by economic and social circumstances
Professional/Patient relationships• What role to medical professionals play in maintaining health?
Sociological Approaches• Medical knowledge is not just ‘scientific facts’• It develops in relation to wider society• The power relationship between health professionals and ‘patients’ impacts on individuals health
The ‘sick role’• One of the earliest concepts in medical sociology was Parson’s idea of the ‘sick role’.• For Parsons being sick not just a biological condition but also a social role• It has both rights and duties
The ‘sick role’• Rights and Duties: – You can be excused normal duties – You are not responsible for your ‘deviance’ – You must want and try to get well – You must seek and accept professional help
The ‘sick role’• People could adopt the ‘sick role’ to opt out of social obligations• So the ‘sick role’ can only be verified by a competent professional• But fails to explain • chronic illness • those held responsible for their illness • the impact of professional power • patient rejection of the sick role
• Discuss the idea of the ‘sick role’. What advantages and disadvantages does it have?
The rest of the moduleWeek 15 Medical power and surveillance medicineWeek 16 ‘Lay’ understandings of healthWeek 17 Health inequalities and social classWeek 18 Gender inequalities and healthWeek 19 Independent Study –no classesWeek 20 Ethnicity, racism and healthWeek 21 Chronic illness and social (dis)abilityWeek 22 The sociology of mental illnessWeek 23 Reading week (essay preparation)Week 24 Essay Submission
Summary• Thought about how health and illness and shaped by society• Introduced the power relationship between patients and professionals• Looked at the idea of the ‘sick role’
Next week: Medical Power and Surveillance Medicine• Look at how health and illness are shaped by medical power and knowledge• Consider how bodies are medicalised• Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of surveillance medicine