Health And Sociology

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SOCIOLOGY: HEALTH AND INEQUALITY For our society to develop an understanding of health and how to improve it, we first have to define health and what it is to be healthy. There are many factors that influence our definition of health, the four main ones that influence lay definitions are age, culture, gender and social class. There are also different models of health that professionals use when deciding whether someone is healthy or not. In the western world we use the biomedical model, which scientifically measures someone’s health to decide whether illness is present. Though in other cultures the body and mind co-exist, and an understanding of the body and mental state are looked at together. The world health organisation had defined health as “A complete state of physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Some critiques argue that this definition is too idealistic and including the word complete means people can not remain in this state for any length of time (Awofeso,2005). When looking at the definitions of health, sociologists have discovered four areas that influence the lay persons opinion of what health is. A persons age is one of these influencing factors, as we get older we accept that our body’s will experience physical discomfort and we become limited in what physical functions we perform. When Mildred Blaxter (1990) carried our a health survey, she found that young people define health in terms of physical fitness, but as people age, health is defined by the amount of physical tasks that can be performed. A young person is more likely to think of themselves as ill, when they experience pain and discomfort than an older person, who will accept it as part of getting older. Cultural differences, can create different views on health as traditional and non-western societies see health and
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