Marxist Approach to Health

1041 WordsJul 11, 20185 Pages
A definition, by way of contrast, of the key features of Marxism and functionalism will precede an application of each theory in turn to health. Functionalism developed out of the positivist observation that 'all positive speculations owe their first origin to the occupations of practical life' (Comte, 1865, pg 11) and the boundaries of scientific knowledge can not go further than empirically observable truths and views societies as holistic systems where 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts' (Taylor et el, 1997, pg 662). Functionalist analysis draws on three assumptions essentially seeking to transform society into a theoretical system of reality. The first assumption is that there are zero independent parts operating within…show more content…
A significant criticism of functionalism is that it describes the ideal conditions, essentially the effects, of the two interrelated structures necessary for equilibrium within the healthcare system. Functionalism essentially states that both institutions of health, including the doctors and the citizens who interact with the institutions, are functions of the overall system. The 'causal question' (Isajiw, 1968, pp.28-29) is thus: either these functions are a cause of their effectiveness within the boundary of the overall healthcare system or the overall healthcare system and its effectiveness is a cause of the constituent functions. Functionalism is ambiguous as to the answer to this question which is significant because the answer would determine the nature of the precise interaction of functions with the healthcare system and therefore determine the precise causal nature of human behaviour within the system. An application of the Marxist approach to health will first identify the role of medical science and it's association with all other parts that create a capitalist economy that are inherently geared to the accumulation of capital and that the healthcare system, and specifically doctors as agents of the state, promotes individual responsibility of illness (Navarro, 1979) that is evocative of the predominant ideology of the state and political system that is geared to a capitalist economy and individualistic world view. Secondly health as a
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