Site Loader
Rock Street, San Francisco

This essay will discuss the main features of two sociological approaches to the studies of physical health and illness. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines “health as a complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of diseases and infirmity” (Organisation, 1946). Illness can be defined as a disease of the body or mind (McIntosh, 2013). There are many factors that can affect the health of a person in a society. Whether people are healthy or not, the health of a population is shaped by traits of that society (Angela, 2005). Factors such as people, the environment, income and employment all affect health and illness. (Angela, 2005). Sociologist sees health as more than just not feeling well by introducing different models to identify health and illness. According to the Biomedical model of health which looks at the scientific side of health and illness and is most favoured by scientists and health professionals that health and illness are caused by factors within the body (Bonney, 2008). The model assumes that illness is often due to abnormalities in the body and that if a part of the body goes wrong it should be fixed or replaced in the same way in which a machine would be repaired. The model is a reductionist view of illness (Blaxter, 2010). which means it takes the easiest possible cause of the illness and applies the easiest cure. The model also looks at the part of the body that might work together to make sure there is good health (Blaxter, 2010).  It concentrates on the main person rather than the emotional and social process of the person.   The main aim of the model is to recognise a person who is at risk from illness and focuses on the treatment than the prevention (Duncan, 2010). However, the social model describes health and illness as social constructs (Bonney, 2008). This means that it is an idea that is created by a society. The social model is favoured by sociologists and it says that health and illness are caused by factors outside the body (Bonney, 2008). The model is a modern method for example in the 1700s, mental illness was often thought to be caused by evil spirits and not a medical thing. The model defined health and illness has been social constructs (Blaxter, 2010). This means it is an idea created by society. It looks to see which environmental social and behavioural factor has contributed to making someone ill. Social factors such as diet, housing or stress makes someone more likely to be ill than other. The model also looks at patterns of health based on gender, age, ethnicity and social class (Bonney, 2008). The Achenson Report of 1998 made a powerful case that many of the factors causing ill-health are rooted in social inequality and therefore recognised the importance of social dimensions to health (Achenson, 1998). For example, the NHS service is now carrying out increasing number of private treatment and operations to raise fund and people who can pay for the service get attended to quicker and may get better treatment while those that cannot pay are left on the waiting list (Bonney, 2008).In view of this the strength of Bio-medical model and social model. The Bio-medical model strength is shown to be more successful for the diagnosis and it is based on scientific knowledge and research (Ewles, 2003) For example in the 1940s, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was used to treat depression. In using the ECT, an electric current is passed through the patient’s brain to create a seizure a bit like an epileptic fit (Bonney, 2008). The model is also cure-oriented, it emphasizes the importance of treatments involving drugs or surgery for depression (Bonney, 2008). This model emphasis on facts and testing on Biomedicine and ill-health by considering the signs and systems (Bonney, 2008). For example, mental illness is treated by psychotherapy, where the patient talks to a therapist who tries to get them thinking in a healthier way. In contrast to this is the strengths of socio-model which addresses the causes of health such as gender, social class, age, culture, education and ethnicity (Yuill, 2010). This puts into consideration all these factors and not just the biological methods and it focuses on how health and well-being can be influenced by these factors. The model also identifies patterns and causes of illness to prevent it from reoccurrence, instead of treating the person with drugs (Yuill, 2010). Factors such as occupation, education, income, poverty, poor diet and pollution. For example, poor housing and poverty are causes of respiratory problems, this is also the weakness of both models. The Bio-medical model which says that health and diseases are not socially constructed (Coward, 1989). It means that it does not consider social factors as the cause of illness. For instance, leaving in a house with dampness and no heating which can cause respiratory conditions. This method also does not promote prevention but focuses more on treatment instead (Duncan, 2010). For example, treating a person with poor non-nutritious diets that always eat ready meals with drugs instead of looking at the ways to promote and prevent the person from having diabetes and heart condition by teaching a healthy lifestyle. While the weakness of the social model is that it fails to look at the biological causes of diseases and illnesses in improving the environmental factors (Nettleton, 2006). The model also does not have a clear method of identifying health problems and it is unable to explain illness if there are no signs and symptoms to make a diagnosis (Blaxter, 2010). It also tries to prevent diseases and not all diseases can be cured (Nettleton, 2006). For example, HIV cannot be cured but can be prevented.The bio-medical model was supported by the functionalist who sees illness as Deviant (Parsons, 1951). According to functionalist like Talcott Parsons (1951), who sees Doctors as an important function in the society and they control the amount of time people take off work and family duties. Parson said the illness is a “deviant behaviour” which disrupt work and home life (Haralambos, 2004). A person is not supposed to take time off sick. He also said that people take on a sick role while a person is sick they are allowed to stop functional in their normal role which means that they don’t have responsibility to make themselves better but to do what so ever  the Doctors tell them to do, because Doctors have the power to confirm that a patient is actually ill and it is the duty of the doctor to tell the sick person to take limited time off and make them better by using their medical knowledge. Parson thought that Doctors always put the patients’ needs before their own needs (Haralambos, 2004).In support of social model is Marxism, Marxist believe that medical professionals only do good for the capitalist class (Bonney, 2008). This is to ensure they keep the inequality going. Medical professionals are in the position of power and they have a major role in the society (Bonney, 20087). For example, Doctors keep the workforce healthy and productive. The class system is of two different classes. The bourgeoisie and the proletariat (Burton, 2013). This is those who own the means of production and those that sell their Labour. In relation to the health system, the NHS is a means that benefits the Bourgeoisie by ensuring that workers remain healthy and well enough to work harder and will not have to take time off sick which means more profits for the capitalist class (Andersen, 2008). Marxist believe that Doctors hide the real social causes of illness, for example, poverty and class inequality, instead they focus on the individual and their physical symptoms.

Post Author: admin

x

Hi!
I'm Eunice!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out