To what extent could it be argued that an individual’s response to ill health is governed by his/her social identity?
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Mildred Baxter conducted a survey in 1990 on Health and Lifestyles, and asked 10,000 people how they defined health, her results were defined by Three answers: -
• Positive Definitions- where health is defined as feeling fit and able to undertake any reasonable task.
• Negative Definitions- where health is defined in terms of being free from pain and discomfort.
• Functional Definitions- where people define health in terms of being able to perform a range of tasks.
Whereas Medical Definitions state that: -
• Illness is always based on an identifiable (physical/mental) cause.
• Illnesses and their causes can be identified, classified and measured.
• The cure lies in the physical body of a person, not their social relationships or their spiritual life.
• There is reliance upon drugs and surgery.
This essay will look at the inequalities in Health, with regards to class, ethnicity, gender and age.
There are several possible explanations for inequalities in health, these include; social and material reasons, whereby because of poverty in society, it leads to ill health, because of such things as poor housing and nutrition. Cultural, religion reasons, because of the difference in diet, and certain beliefs and habits that effect health. Also the effect an individual has on his or her own health, by choosing what they eat, drink and whether they smoke or not.
It could be argued that the standard of healthcare in different social classes are because of geographical reasons, and the level of funding that the government gives to poorer, lower class areas compared to the level that is given to richer, middle/higher class areas. This can be seen in the Black Report (1980) and The Health Divide (1987). These reports clearly show such str...
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Social class plays a part, because wealthy elderly people do not face the same inequalities in health as lower class elderly people.
It can also be seen that the government have taken steps to improve the health of elderly people by introducing the flu vaccine and by giving heating grants etc.
To conclude there are no strong arguments to say that there is one specific social or materialist explanation for inequalities in health.
I think that there are a number of factors that contribute towards inequalities, from geographical, social, financial, cultural, economic, religious reasons, to biological reasons.
The choices people make as individuals' plays a major factor towards the inequalities that they encounter in heath, and by changing certain things in their lives that they have control over, there would be fewer inequalities