Our health is crucial to us we invest time and money into staying healthy, but what do we mean by “Health?” The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being not just the absence of disease.”
It is quite difficult to maintain good health in the current scenario as our environment and lifestyles are changing at a very fast pace. The way we live, work and play has a great impact on our health.
There is a close relationship between Sociology and Health. Sociology is defined as the scientific study of human social behavior. It includes the study of social interaction, relationships, groups, organizations, institutions, and societies.
The Sociology of Health and Illness is the sociological study of health and illness, including their origins, causes, manageability, and effects on society. It covers a wide range of topics from biomedical issues to public health policy.
Sociologists use various methods to study health and illness, including surveys, interviews, observations, and analysis of existing data.
They examine how biological, psychological, social, and economic factors affect our health. They also look at how healthcare systems work and how they can be improved.
Sociologists play an important role in improving our understanding of health and illness. They can help us to identify the root causes of health problems and develop solutions to address them.
Contrarily to what is widely believed in Western societies, sociologists claim that the discrepancies in health and health problems between different social groups are due to socio-cultural, economic and political factors, rather than biological causes.
The sociology of health and illness, also called medical sociology, is the study of how social factors affect health and wellness. It is a sub-field of sociology, which is the study of human social behavior. The medical sociologist Charles Rosenberg defined medical sociology as “the study of the distribution of illnesses and other health states within society.”
There are three main types of sociological explanations for differences in health and illness within society:
– Structural factors such as poverty or lack of access to healthcare
– Cultural factors such as beliefs about illness or different understandings of what constitutes good health
– Behavioral factors such as diet or exercise
Medical sociologists use a variety of research methods, including surveys, interviews, observations, and analysis of secondary data (such as census data or medical records).
One of the most important things that medical sociologists do is help to develop new ways of thinking about health and illness. For example, they may challenge the idea that poor health is simply the result of individual choices or bad luck. Instead, they may argue that poor health is the result of larger social factors such as poverty or discrimination. By bringing attention to these issues, medical sociologists can help to improve the overall health of society.
Social class is a vital concept in medical sociology that has been shown to have significant impact on individual health chances since early last century. The English sociologist, Stevenson, developed a classification based on father’s profession as a way of understanding patternson baby mortality rates across England and Wales. In recent years however, medical sociologists have come under fire for their atheoretical use of the term ‘class’.
Class is not simply an objective descriptor of inequality, it is also a relational concept that requires us to think about how different classes are positioned in relation to each other.
In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in class as a sociological concept and its usefulness for understanding health inequalities.
There are various ways of thinking about class, but one of the most useful approaches is the ‘new’ sociological perspective on class which sees class as constituted by four key dimensions:
– economic resources (including income, wealth and employment)
– social relations (including both work and non-work roles)
– political agency (including ability to participate in decision-making processes)
– ideological resources (including culture, education and knowledge).
This approach recognises that class is not simply about economic position but also about the other key dimensions of inequality.
It also recognises that class is not a static concept but is constantly being reproduced and transformed through the everyday interactions of individuals.
The ‘new’ sociological perspective on class has been used to good effect in a number of studies which have shown that it is a useful tool for understanding health inequalities.
For example, one study used this perspective to examine the relationship between class and health in Britain.
The study found that although there was a clear relationship between income and health, this was only part of the story.
Other important factors included social relations, political agency and ideological resources.
The study showed that the way in which these different dimensions of class were experienced was crucial to understanding health inequalities.
For example, those at the bottom of the social class ladder were more likely to experience poor health not just because they had less money but also because they had fewer opportunities to participate in decision-making processes and lacked the cultural and educational resources that would enable them to improve their situation.
The ‘new’ sociological perspective on class provides a useful tool for understanding health inequalities and can help us to develop policies and interventions that are more effective in tackling these inequalities.
Critics of medical sociology, and specifically the ‘health inequality’ debate, have argued that it is disconnected from developments in other areas of sociology. (Fitzpatrick, 2004) However, this paper sought to document how this is changing. It argues that medical sociology is both acknowledging and contributing to modern theories of class.
The ‘sociology of health and illness’ are terms which are relatively new to sociology. The study of health and illness from a sociological perspective began to emerge in the early 1970s (Fitzpatrick, 2004). It was around this time that the field of medical sociology began to take shape.
Medical sociology is an area of inquiry that focuses on the social factors that impact health and healthcare. (Kendall, 2011) It encompasses a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:
– The social determinants of health
– Healthcare access and utilization
– Health disparities
– The doctor-patient relationship
– The organization and delivery of healthcare services
– The social impact of medical technology
– The sociology of the body
– The sociology of emotions
– Health and illness in a global context.
Medical sociologists use a variety of theoretical perspectives, including functionalism, symbolic interactions, conflict theory, and constructionism. (Kendall, 2011) In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the intersection of health and inequality.
The study of health and illness from a sociological perspective can provide important insights into the complex relationships between individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole. It can help us to better understand how these factors contribute to patterns of health and illness in our society.