Social Class Vs Health Inequalities Essay

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The aim of this essay is to examine the relationship between social class and health inequalities. There has always been an association with the relationship between health and social class. Social class is a complex issue that may involve numerous factors, such as physical fitness, race, gender, status, wealth, culture, housing, background, education, mortality/morbidity and employment. The relationship between class and ill health is not simple. It should be noted what is meant by health. The World Health Organisation defines health as: “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1995).   The term "social class" originally referred to groups of people holding similar roles in the economic processes of production and exchange, such as landowner or tenant, employer or employee. Such positions correspond to different levels of status, prestige, and access to political power, but social class eventually took on a more generic meaning and came to refer to all aspects of a person's rank in the social hierarchy. (Social class and stratification 1990 p2-3)
There have been a number of studies on social inequalities that have examined differences in health status to rank.   For example the Whitehall study (1988 cited in Marmot et al., 1991) examines differences in health across groups of individuals ranked by civil service grade. The findings of this study concluded that generally those who are less well off have shorter lives and experience more illness than those who are wealthier (UCL, 2004) [Accessed 18th November 2009]
Belonging to a social class is not merely an objective fact, but is generally accompanied by a perception of class identity. In this sense, social class is not merely a personal attribute, but also a contextual variable that characterizes a group of people. The shared culture of a particular class influences, and is influenced by, people's attitudes and lifestyle. Social class,...

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