Understanding Society Notes Health and Illness

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Understanding society- Week 8 – Health and Illness
Why do sociologists study health and illness?
* Helps us understand how society works. For sociologists, the experience of sickness and disease is not about what happened to an individual; it is about what is happening in society, especially how resources are distributed. For example, poor living and working condition actually make people sicker and poorer people die earlier than with wealth. Disease and inequality are intimately linked... live in a infested over crowded house, those impoverished conditions that have made them sick, later return once the doctor cures them. Sociologists are interested in the relationship between social structures, institutions of medicine. What is health?

* Absence of disease. Ability to do those things which society seems normal. A state of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. * According to WHO health of a state of complete physical, psychological and social wellbeing. Fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. * Who have demonstrated that health and the spread of disease are influenced by social factors such as class, gender, ethnicity, and location. Health is not only the product of biological or natural conditions. A sociologist perspective on health provides insight into the connection between society and out health. Focuses on external factors which cause certain groups of people to experience health – sociological imagination Common sense view of health in modern societies

* Socialised to view illness an individualistic way in modern societies. That is, we are socialised to see illness as something caused by genetic factors or lifestyle choices. I.e. fast food, smoking, drinking. Sociologists agree alcohol, smoking, diet and exercise are important issues, but they also see the significant of the impact it has on our health Social inequality and health

* Social determents of health include from this health promotion document produced by the state government of Victoria Different life expectations across and within different countries * Average life expectancy in the least developed countries is around 64 years. African continent registering the lowest LE at below 50. LE is higher in rich industrial countries. Australia has a LE of 80, but indigenous Australians around 10 years lower. These health inequalities (reflected in LE) suggest that social factors such as environment in which they live, housing, crime, pollution, poverty and the health system impact on morbidity and mortality. Social determinants of health

* What social factors impact on the health of individuals in this film? (see documentary) Michael Moore. * People who don’t have private health insurance.
* Unequal societies result in sickness and disease experiences. With those at the bottom getting sicker and dying sooner – from what are known to be preventable and modifiable social circumstance. The more equitable the distribution of wealth, the healthier the population. The social determinants of health in Australia.

Social class factors:
* Occupational work hazards – disabling illness and death – far greater risj of people working in lower-class jobs. * Lack of social resources: good housing and housing location; income, savings, education ( higher levels, = better understanding of health hazards), understandable health information * Inability to take out private health insurance

* Gender = a significant social factor in the ways that health, illness and health care are experienced * Male rates of accidental and non accidental injury are higher than for women, can be attributed to differences in gender socialisation – masculinity exemplified by risky behaviours * 2009: 9.6% deaths from car accidents = male, compared to 3.5% for females. 77 % were males. Although twice as many women present with depression and anxiety...
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