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Sociology Inequalities in Health and Illness

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Mortality rates: In gender men generally die earlier than women because of many aspects of their life, for instance in general women tend to take care of them self more physically. A lot of women go on diets and a lot of exercise DVDs and detunes are mainly aimed at women. Women in general do try to eat healthy and go on diets whereas men usually aren’t very aware of their diet and don’t have much intention on improving it. Women also tend to go to the doctors and seek medical advice more often and have their illnesses diagnosed and treated more often than men. Because women’ generally take more care of themselves and do more to keep themselves healthy.

Life expectancy: Again women’ have a higher life expectancy because of they have their illnesses diagnosed and use more medication to get themselves better. Women also generally go to the doctors more about depression and anxiety and get medication for it. Women also take more time off from being ill and stay in bed more making sure they get better.

Disease Incidence: Women tend to suffer from depression more than men because of stress this is because they usually have a family and a job or not enough income which results in stress and they will not have much time to relax or enough money to do something to relax.

Disease prevalence: Diseases are hard to monitor as a lot of them are not diagnosed due to people not going to the doctors. But women would have a larger amount of the diseases because they go to the doctors more often and have their illnesses diagnosed whereas men tend not to go to the doctors as often. For example women are more often diagnosed with depression because they are more open to talk about their emotions and go to seek medical advice whereas men don’t usually go and get their illnesses diagnosed and don’t talk about their mental health issues or emotions as much.

Morbidity rates: There are inequalities between men and women in diseases and illnesses as women might suffer more from things like depression and eating disorders because of how they might feel in society whereas men suffer more from things due to their lifestyle like heart problems.

Differences: In general women have better diets than men as they care more about their appearance all though in society the modern day male is becoming more concerned for his appearance and lots of products are also now aimed at men too. But in general woman care more for what they eat. Alcohol consumption also varies between men and women as we are advised on how much we can drink and men are able to drink more units. Also men in general drink more than women this could just be because of the social aspect, but women tend to have many priorities like the home and children which restricts them from drinking a lot of the time. The average women uses a lot more drugs than the average man because they go to the doctors more and have more no-prescription and prescription drugs as they are more willing to be treated.

Social Class –
Mortality rates: In general a lot more people of lower class die compared to those of higher class. This is due to many things such as living conditions, wealth, socialization (good and bad) etc. Somebody in class 5 is twice as likely to die before retirement age than someone in class one this can be because of their lifestyle, somebody who is in class 5 will not have the best lifestyle and might struggle to eat proper food or could live in a home which could be dangerous to their health and could cause a number of health issues.

Life expectancy: The life expectancy of someone one from class 5 is lower than the life expectancy of someone from class 1. This can be due to money differences and people of class 1 will find it easier to look after themselves as they have more money to keeps themselves healthy, because of their wealth they’ll find it easier to eat healthy and go to the gym and do more activities. People in class 5 will struggle to keep themselves fit and healthy, with a lack of money it can be hard to eat healthily and do activities. Also the living conditions of someone in class 5 could be a very low standard and could affect things like their breathing and cause repertory problems. Also working class may do jobs which affect their bodies as lung and stomach cancer occur twice as often among men in manual jobs as among men in professional jobs.

Disease Incidence: More unskilled manual workers are dyeing due to things such as lung and stomach cancer because of the environment they work in and the fumes they are breathing can harm their lungs. More men and women die before retirement age in class 5 than class 1. More class 5 people die on a whole because they may become ill and will not have what they need to help the disease and their living conditions can worsen their condition.

Disease prevalence: There will be a higher amount of people in class 5 with illnesses than people in class 1 but certain illnesses may trend in certain classes, for example obesity which is a growing problem in the UK is more common in higher classes than lower classes, this could be due to money causing greediness. Class 1 have the money to eat healthily but also can overindulge and spend money on food which they don’t need. Whereas in class 5 it might be a struggle to get enough food to keep you satisfied.

Morbidity rates: People in class 1 suffer more from things which can be a result of their lifestyle like diet, alcohol and drugs; this is because they have money to spend on these things. Whereas in general people from class 5 will usually have health issues to do with where they live or the job they do which can affect their vital organs if they are breathing in something dangerous. Also it is quite common for people in class 5 to get things like anxiety and depression because of the way they live and might become depressed because of it.

Differences: In class 1 the diet could either be more or less unhealthy as they could either be overindulging because of their money or they could be buying good food of a high standard. Whereas in class 5 they may not have much choice in the food they eat and might have to get something that isn’t healthy and could damage their body. Drug use can occurs in both classes 1 and 5 but can be easily obtained in class 1 as they have more money, but in class 5 it may seem as the only choice for someone who is not doing very well in life and could be struggling they may think this is their choice because it seems a social norm in their class. Alcohol consumption is again like drugs in class 1 they can obtain alcohol easily and because of that they may take advantage of it. And in Class 5 they might spend the money they have on alcohol because of things like depression and anxiety which are quite common in lower classes.

Ethnicity –
Mortality rates: In comparison to the white majority group more people from ethnic groups die from illnesses sometimes because of differences in diet, lifestyle, and way of living. For example people in minority ethnic groups have a higher rate of stillbirths, infant mortality and mortality in general. This is could be because of their differences in lifestyle and diets

Life expectancy: People of ethnic minorities may have a lower life expectancy than the white majority because of their lifestyle and diet, people in ethnic minorities might have very different diets due to their culture. People from ethnic minorities have greater periods of illness and have a shorter life expectancy than the host population this again can be a number of things.

Disease Incidence: It is accruing more that Asian minorities (Pakistanis, Indians, and Bangladeshis) suffer more from heart disease than the white minority and are more likely to die from it, this is due to the way they cook their food and the fat they use in it. Also African-Caribbean’s are biologically vulnerable to developing anaemia and are more likely to suffer from strokes and are more often admitted to hospital.

Disease prevalence: A large amount of ethnic minorities in general become ill compared to the white majority as they have a large different in their diet and a lot suffer from heart problems, certain ethnic minorities between the age of 30 and 50 are more likely to suffer from some sort of ill health.

Morbidity rates: People in different ethnic groups usually suffer from illnesses related to their culture and the way they live their life. People from ethnic groups are more likely to develop heart problems.

Differences: The main difference in ethnic minorities is the diet and the way they make their food for example, Asians tend to cook using fats which affects their health. Also a lot of ethnic minorities don’t eat meat or have their meat cooked a specific way. Most of the ethnic minorities don’t drink alcohol because of their beliefs and also don’t use illegal drugs because it would be against their beliefs.

I am going to use different sociological perspectives to discuss patterns and trends in health and illness relating to Gender and Social Class (M2) The artefact explanation: This shows how not all diseases are known of because not everyone is diagnosed and a lot of the people who aren’t diagnosed, don’t get diagnosed with their illnesses because they don’t go to the doctors. This can relate to gender because most women do regularly go to the doctor which shows how they are the large percentages who are diagnosed. Whereas men don’t go to the doctors as often as women and many don’t get things checked so it can’t be confirmed for sure. A lot of people who are from class 5 might not go to the doctor because they can’t afford to get to the doctors because they can’t afford the transport or can’t access transport and might struggle to go for checkups.

The social selection explanation: The social selection focuses on how health influences class in both a positive and negative way. If a person is ill and therefore cannot maintain a well-paid job meaning they cannot manage to look after themselves, this puts them into a lower class as they cannot afford to keep themselves healthy. But also for example a woman develops an illness and before the illness she was doing well financially and had a secure job and home when she becomes ill she’ll still be able to lead a good life because she is secure so she can stay as she is.

The cultural explanation: This is about how there are culture and health inequalities that influence using certain aspects of our lifestyle. For
example diet between women and men different types of food are consumed, women will probably be more careful with what they eat whereas men would probably not care too much about their appearance compared to women. And people in lower class probably would eat less food in general compared to higher class but consume more white bread than professionals who consume more fruit than manual workers. People from a higher class might eat more but they can afford to get better quality food which may cause them to overindulge. Smoking in general is found mostly in men in lower class, but it’s known that 40% of males and 35% of females in lower class some. This is probably due to stress from money issues, and only 12% of males and females in upper class are smokers. Alcohol also is mainly consumed mostly by the lower class again to probably relieve stress. It is more known for middle class to do more exercise and have a rider range of social activities.

The Structuralist explanation: The structural explanation looks at the specific relationship between health inequalities and influences in society. This explanation could lead to excessive work and anti social working hours which could lead to mental and physical illness. In lower class this means that people can become very unwell from work but have not choice because they do not have much money. In gender this could affect women more as women tend to open up to their mental health issues and will be more aware of it.

Evaluate different sociological explanations for patterns and trends of health and illness in two different social groups. (D1)

The artefact explanation: The artefact explanation is good as it shows inequalities in health in the past may have been as a result of inaccurate data. And shows how the inequalities between men and women are increasing. But there are still inequalities which aren’t due to statistics like men dying before women; this is more due to the fact they go to the doctors less than women, this can also apply for social classes; lower classes will not go to the doctors as much as higher classes because they might not have access to a doctor.

The social selection explanation: Suffering from ill health can reduce chances of working which can result in downward mobility in the social class scale. Women are more likely to b in lower paid jobs because of the time they take off for maternity leave which can make it hard for them to be upwardly socially mobile. But studies show that poverty in low social class is a cause of ill health which would contradict the social selection explanation because it believes poverty causes ill health rather than ill health causing poverty. If somebody is born into a lower class family their life is a lot different and it can be harder for them to get out of lower class than it would for someone in a higher class.

The cultural explanation: Studies show more women smoke this could be due to stress and coping with the expectations of a women’s role like being a mother, provider, carer for their family etc. Also for social classes trends might show i9n diet, as more people of higher class become obese because of their easy access to a lot of food. But it doesn’t really focus on inequalities in cultures like men and women and why men consume more alcohol than women. Also it is not necessarily just lower classes that are unaware of how to manage their health; and it could be that they don’t have good access to healthcare or healthy foods.

The Structuralist explanation: Mental illness is more common in women this could be because of the pressure and roles they have to partake in which can cause stress this is things like; domestic work, child carer, and professional responsibilities. Annandale (1998) discovered that women who work have abetter level of health as they can afford to have a decent lifestyle and keep themselves healthy and can achieve a better social life and be more independent. But this could also be contradicted as having a job could be a factor of stress if it is a very pressured job.


Obesity in social classes – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8412796.stm VLE handouts

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