Sociology of health and illness essay


Sociologyof health and illness


Fromresearch done in the 21stcentury by social scientists to show the connection between societalsetup and health, it is evident that the Whites enjoy good healththanks to advances in technology in comparison to other ethnic groupsin the UK. The good health is also attributable to other factors suchas availability of preventive medications and easy access to broadand easily accessible health facilities. It is unfortunate that mostof these services are not available to the less fortunate racial andethnic groups as the sociology of health and illness stipulates. Thisphenomenon arises from the fact that these minority groups are lesshealthy, lack access to proper healthcare services, and have a lowlife expectancy because of their social backgrounds. The purpose isto present a discussion on the current research in the field ofsociology of ethnicity, racism, health, and illness drawing on arange of sociological research work.

Sociologyof health and illness

Someof the diseases and ailments affecting people stem from the social,economic, political and cultural aspects (Duster, 2005). It is thisfactor that the sociology of health gained popularity with variousresearch work being carried out on the same. There are differentapproaches in use with the aim of identifying the relationshipbetween sociological aspects and how they influence health andillness (Association of schools of public health, 1979). For instancethe labeling and conflict approaches. The labeling approach as putforth by Howard, a sociologist, stipulates that the manifestation ofmental illness is as a result of the influence of the society (Green,1996). Conflict approach, on the other hand, shows there existsinequalities in health care delivery and the quality of health(Weitz, 2004). From these approaches, we can deduce differences inthe life expectancy, mortality rates, causes of diseases, and theleading causes of death across the ethnic and racial divide will beinevitable (Currer, 1995). These differences result in the concept ofthe sociology of health and illness.

Differentracial groups arise from populations with different physicalappearances but sharing a common ancestor (Erratum, 2008). Researchby social scientists shows the substantial impact the preventive andrisky behaviors, the economic and social differences, the differentenvironments different groups exist on, racial practices and healthpolicies have on the health status (McBean &amp Gornick, 1994).These are the primary dynamics that play a central role in theexplanation of the racial and ethnic differences in the outcomes ofhealth conditions.

Despitethe growth and development in the research of biology and genetics,sociological research and writing acts as a reminder that race is nota rigid but sociable character subject to changes and result inconsequences on the well-being and health of the particular people(Rogers &amp Pilgrim, 2010). Dwelling on the research in the UnitedKingdom, the description of the health care system is depicted asoutstanding in most parts of the region with the minority areasportraying poor health (Rogers &amp Pilgrim, 2010). Such a systeminstitutionalizes racial practices and prejudices and can beexplained by the conflict approach which emphasizes on theinequalities in the quality and delivery of healthcare services. Thesystem usually results in unfair and unequal access to healthcareservices, different treatment procedures on the basis of the racedespite the similarity in the severity of the condition, as well asdisparities in the health insurance covers (Kate, 2007).

Researchon the sociology of ethnicity, racism, health, and illness

Theprimary intention of the works of major social scientists was tounravel the relationship between health and society. The results fromtheir works that revolve around the ethnicity and the race of thewhites show the current trend in the ethnicity, racism, health, andillness. The research work by social scientists mainly dwells on thedescription of the primary differences in the factors to gauge intrying to understand the health status, life, and death in differentracial and ethnic groups (Borgatta &amp Montgomery, 2000). Theresearch, as well, makes use of social science and sociologicalinferences such as labeling and conflict theories to explain theoccurrence of these differences. This explanation is offered throughexamination of the role income plays, separations in theneighborhood, and practices that portray ethnic discrimination(Jones, 1991).

Thechances of life and death on diverse ethnic and racial groups.

Themeasure of the health of a nation makes use of the measures of thelife and death of the health status (Pescosolido, 2011). Examples ofsuch measures include the level of life expectancy, the rate of theinfant mortality, the mortality rates, the leading causes of death,mental stability, and the psychological well-being of people (Conrad,2008). Taking the case of the United Kingdom, these measures of thehealth of a nation show there is evidence of racial and ethnicdifferences as determiners of healthcare services to be given to aperson (Rogers &amp Pilgrim, 2010). Advancements in technologycoupled with a variety of healthcare providers, availability ofinsurance funds, and the development of better forms of diagnosis andtreatment of diseases, it is clear that the whites have a longer lifeexpectancy than before (Weiss &amp Lonnquist, 1997). On the otherhand, the counterpart Asian and Black British have a lower lifeexpectancy with up to five years less in comparison to the Whites(Conrad, 2008).

Therealso exists clear ethnic and racial disparities in the rates ofinfant mortality. The Black British have the highest rates of infantmortality as compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the UnitedKingdom (Wainwright, 2000). There is a twice more likely hood of theBlack British deaths of infants in comparison to the Whites infantsduring the first year of life. With the infant mortality rates, theAsian-British infants demonstrate the lowest levels of the rates ofmortality (Beckfield, 2004). Similarly, according to the lifeexpectancy, the rates of death are different across the ethnic andsocial divides with the Asian-British demonstrating low death rateswhile the Black-British show the highest rates (Conrad, 2008). Thispattern remains similar for the men and women coming from the bothracial groups. In the main eight of the ten leading causes of death,Black-British possesses higher rates of death as compared to thewhites (Rogers &amp Pilgrim, 2010).

Thereis substantiality with the gaps in the leading specific cause ofmortality among these different groups. For instance, there exist aten times greater potential for Black-British to die from AIDS andHIV-related complications in comparison to the whites (Virginia,1989). Alongside the key indicators of life expectancies and therates of mortality, the social scientists also study mental healthand its indicators to show the social setup affects mental health.Research work on behavioral science and social sciences does not showany significant disparities in the cases of key clinically diagnoseddisorders between the whites and Black-British (White, 2002). Infact, research has shown that Black-British and Asian-British possesslower rates of mental illnesses, which can be explained by thelabeling approach which describes the behavior of people with regardto social setting. On the other hand, whites possess higher rates ofmental disorders. This has a linkage to the labeling approach whichclaims mental illness is a manifestation of the influence of societyon the health of people (Green, 1996)

Useof sociology of health and opportunities to understand the healthopportunities.

Itis evident that there exist disparities in the psychologicalwell-being and health. It is also clear that there exist genetic andbiological similarities in the racial and different ethnic groups.These similarities are strong enough to present a base for socialscientists to undertake research and understand the broad range ofinterrelated factors (Duster, 2005). The race, behavioral, andcultural factors explain the differences in health and psychologicalwell-being. The level of the individual behaviors causing an effecton health differences results in the categories of health promotersor risk-takers (Nettleton, 1995). Such practices include theengagement in preventive exams such as cancer screening, good healthhabits such proper nutrition and undertaking physical exams, orbehaviors that compromise health such as drug and substance abuse(White, 2002). The research by social scientists shows that there isa less likelihood of Black-British to engage in behaviors thatpromote health in comparison to the whites (Beckfield, 2004).

Raceand socioeconomic factors form an explanation of the differences inthe health conditions (Kate, 2007). Socioeconomic factors are strongdeterminants of the freedom from diseases and lifespan ofindividuals. There exist disparities in life expectancies and therates of mortality attributable to racial and ethnic differences ineducational levels, income, poverty, and the accumulation ofresources (Link and Joanne, 2000). The conflict approach stipulatesthat people from minority group have a high likelihood of gettingsick and at the same time do not have capabilities to acquireadequate medical care (Weitz, 2004). However, if there is a controlon the socioeconomic conditions and the related environmentalconditions, the disparities in the rates of mortality, the particularcause of death, and mental illnesses is seen to decline at a highrate. For instance, in the case that Asian-British is accordedsimilar levels of education and income, as the whites counterparts, asignificant decline in the mortality as a result of drugs andsubstance abuse or homicide would be evident (Link and Joanne, 2000).


Researchin the current period shows there are increasing variations in thehealth care service provisions in the UK. These differences presentadverse effects on the well-being of the minority groups aselaborated by the conflict and labeling approaches. These disparitiesare as a result of socioeconomic differences, segregation, and healthpractices in the favor of the whites while disregarding thenonwhites. There is, however, a possibility of improving the healthof the minority groups through poverty reduction, reduced prejudiceamong the minority groups, and raised education standards for thegroups. Research work in sociology is crucial in providing therelevant insights to bridging the gap and offering efficienthealthcare service to the minority racial and ethnic groups (Conrad,2008).


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