Health: A Major Social Issue

1425 WordsJul 10, 20186 Pages
Health is something that many would not associate as being a social issue, yet many sociologists have argued that it is a major social issue. They argue that the way we experience and understand health is dependent upon society. In 1946, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” (WHO, 2003). This definition is very holistic in the sense that it encompasses all aspects of a person’s life. It is also very idealistic and unattainable for most people. Health can also be seen as, “the absence of illness”, which alternatively is a more traditional view, that views disease and illness as a deviation from the bodies norms (Blaxter, 2010, p5). There is no definition of health…show more content…
For many people “AIDS is regarded as a “disease” of lifestyles which are characteristic of certain social groups” (Nettleton, 1995, p62). People, who had contracted AIDS, especially through sex or drug use, were seen as “guilty”, and that AIDS was the punishment for their deviant lifestyle (Ibid).Therefore health is perceived through society and the prejudices and norms of a society can affect how different illnesses are experienced by different groups. Social meanings and stigmas affect how illness is perceived and experienced by the ill person and those around the ill person Health and illness are not distributed among the population by random chance. There are patterns to health and illness that are linked to the way society is structured. The Marmot review states, “The more favoured people are, socially and economically, the better their health” (2010). The health inequalities between different social classes in the UK were first reported by the “Black Report” in 1980, which found that the main causes of health inequalities in society was the socio-economic status of a person. It found that among males in England and Wales, the mortality rates per 1000 of the population were 2.5 times higher for people in class V (unskilled) than for those in class I (professional) (Black, 1982, p49). This link between
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