Critically discuss how the sociology of health

1. Introduction

In the recent era of globalisation, as per the sociology of health and illness, the incident of health inequalities is one of the major concerns and it is a serious contemporary issue for which the people cross the world cannot get adequate treatment and care due to inequality in providing health and social care service to the individuals who need proper care and support from the health and social acre institutions (Brady, Lowe and Olin Lauritzen, 2015). The aim of the study is to analyse the health inequalities that exists in the society for which the people are suffering a lot as they cannot access the right treatment and quality care at effective time. Through the study, it is also possible to critical demonstrate the social determinants of health care where there are many social factors on which the health and social care service depends and for which people cannot get proper care and health care service at the right time. After analysing the social determinants of health and illness it is possible to discuss about the ways through which it is possible to mitigate the existing issue of health inequalities in the society across the globe.

2. Concept of sociology of health

The social model of health of the individuals and communities is different as compared to the biomedical model of health and illness as it has been seen as the result of complex and interacting factors such as social, economic, environmental and personal factors and it is more varied and broader concept with more determinants. The reasons for sociological interest are that the aging population defines the health and illness in different way (Cohn, 2014). Demographic transition as well as other factors such as declining mortality and death rates, life expectancy of birth and the number of people suffering from chronic disease such as HIV, AIDS, dementia and stroke are the major factors that affect the sociology of health. Social determinants of health include where the people born and grow up, economic status of the people and working status, age and gender (Waring et al., 2016). For example, people who are economically poor do not get proper health treatment to overcome their illness and they are considered as ill in the society as they do not fulfil their basic needs. Hereby, sociology of health mainly indicates the interaction between health and society where social life is considered to be a crucial factor as it affects the morbidity and mortality rate in different countries across the globe. Health is completely considered as the wellbeing of the people that includes physical, mental and emotional factors of the person. Healthy body depends on the healthy environment disease free and stable mind-set of the people (Baum and Fisher, 2014).


Sick role is the social definition of health and illness where a sick person cannot take any responsibility for being sick. The sick person is not responsible for normal duties and he or she is not supposed to like the role. The sick person is supposed to seek help from others to get out of the role. society loses their sympathy and denies the role for the sick person in the society who seek treatment and support from the health and social care institutions. However, family and friends show sympathy and support the sick person, but they also lose their patience for the victim (Martin et al., 2015). Culture is another factor that also affect the health condition of the person and as per the cultural facts, the sick person is excluded from the society for example the person who are suffering from cancer, heart diseases or other critical diseases. The society also excluded the person who are addicted on some chemical such as drug or alcohol and the person is considered as sick and not normal in the society. The addicted people are considered as sick in the society and they seek proper medication and treatment and in the recent years, there are many drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs through which the addicted people can get proper support and care so that they can overcome their situation. It has bee seen that the society does not accept and show sympathy towards the people who are suffering from AIDS, HIV and other critical diseases (Koteyko, Hunt and Gunter, 2015). Therefore, the sociology of health and illness is different concept where the society plays a crucial role to identify the sick person in the social communities. as per the sociologist, spread of diseases is heavily influenced by the socio-economic status of the people, cultural factors, ethnic traditions and beliefs. The diseases are examined and compared based on the economic condition, religion and traditional medicine (Rogers and Pilgrim, 2014).

3. Health inequalities

There are serious inequalities in health between groups of people within countries and between countries. These inequalities exist between societies where it depends on the social and economic activities. For example, the infant mortality rate in Iceland is 2 per 1000 live birth and it is 120 per 1000 in Mozambique (Ong et al., 2014). There exist health inequalities where poor treatment and health and social care standard in Mozambique deteriorate the health condition of the pregnant women and also the baby for which there is high mortality rate. This health inequality plays a serious role as it deteriorates the health condition and living standard pf the people across the countries. The health inequalities arose from different social conditions which includes born, grow up, live, work and age of the people. Health inequalities is wrong and it affects adversely to the whole social communities and it also can be mitigated only by government intervention through which it is possible to reduce inequalities of health where the people across different nations can utilise the health (Weiss, and Lonnquist, 2017). There are many cases of such health inequalities which are political priorities and decision of the political head in the countries, social values and fairness, macro political environment and economic forces that raise the issue of health inequalities. There are environmental influences for which some people are vulnerable to access proper health services in the countries and the factors are such as work, education and living condition where some people are deprived of getting proper health service (Armstrong, 2014). There exist serious discrimination of getting health and social care services in the society where the people who are not economically established, they cannot access and afford the health care service. Discrimination, poor income and poor housing are some cause if not getting equal health and social care service. It further affects the wellbeing of the people where their health condition deteriorates due to lack of access of the health and social care service. Moreover, health inequalities affect the life expectancy in different countries as we as the mortality rate and the rate of morbidity are also affected for such health inequalities. People cannot get effective health acre service where the government fails to intervene for managing heath inequalities in different countries so that all the people can enjoy its benefits. The mortality rate is also increasing where the death rate of a baby during birth or within the age of 1 year is rising due to lack of access of the appropriate health care service (Maller, 2015). The living condition of the people including the patients, pregnant women and the individuals suffering from mental illness is also deteriorating which further raises the death rate in different countries.

4. Facts related to health inequalities

There is serious issue of health inequalities across the nations for which people are not getting proper health and social care service in their regions. For example, there is significant gap in the health outcomes within the countries and it is due to differences in social status, income ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and gender. For example, African and American men in the USA among all ethnic groups are suffering from concern and the rate of 598.5 per 100000. Moreover, there are 21000 children die before their fifth birthday due to malaria, diarrhoea and other diseases (Lupton, 2014). Lack of education and poor access of proper health and social care service as well as poor economic condition are the main reasons behind such health inequalities. In addition to these, it has been estimated that, nearly 1.53 billion people are the vulnerable employees as they do not have proper employment contract and they do not have formal agreements for which they do not get social security and health benefits from the organisations where they are employed. This is also one serious issue of health inequalities for which many workers are suffering from accessing the right health treatment and quality care. Apart from these, the people who are suffering from chronic disease including HIV and AIDS, are also discriminated in the society as per the sociology of heath and illness and people in the social communities do not accept the person who are affected from such disease (Nettleton and Green, 2014).

5. Ways to resolve health inequality

It is important to resolve the issue of health inequalities through government intervention and macroeconomic social policies restructuring so that the government can develop effective planning to get rid of the problem of health inequalities across different countries. Health capital for investment is necessary to be increased where it is utilised for developing physical assets such as health care system infrastructure transport equipment in health and social care, as well as social assets such as education, social security and participation in the civil society. Reducing income differentiation and poverty is also necessary through progressive taxation so that it is possible to maintain equality in the society (Veenstra and Burnett, 2014). Reducing unemployment is another strategic planning through which the issue of health inequalities can be resolved efficiently where the people can earn more and access as well as affords the health treatment ad quality care across different nations. Implementing community development program through crating supportive communities, investing in schools and day care centres, recreation and leisure facilities as well as health service is also effective for reducing health inequalities where the government can manage equality in the social communities were the people can help each other to access the appropriate heath care and social service. Workplace condition as well as living standard of the people also need to be developed where the employees can work freely and the people in the society can stay secured and safely (Riessman, 2015). The policy makers and the government in this regard need to take crucial actions for redistributing the resources of health and social care service across different nations so that the entrepreneurs can develop effective health care institutions for the wellbeing of the social communities. Moreover, providing health care service by public fund through taxation as well as providing economically, geographically and culturally accessible health acre system is also necessity to resolve the issue of health inequalities across the globe. Internal collaboration and government intervention are therefore one of the crucial factors through which it is possible for the politicians and decision makers to get rid of the problem of health inequalities where the people can get appropriate health and social care service equally. There are other strategies through which it is easy to resolve the issue of health inequalities which are health care reform, maintaining standard of health and social care service, reallocation of resources and distributing the funds across the nations (Aasbø et al., 2016).

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6. Conclusion

It can be concluded that, in the recent era of globalisation, health inequality is one of the main issue across the globe for which the morbidity and mortality rate is increasing year to year as well as the living standard of the people and the wellbeing of the individuals. It is hereby necessary for the policy makers and the government to take crucial actions for mitigating health inequalities such as progressive taxation, resource reallocation, distribution of funds and developing health care infrastructure so that it is possible to improve equality in health.

Reference List

  • Aasbø, G., Solbrække, K.N., Kristvik, E. and Werner, A., 2016. Between disruption and continuity: challenges in maintaining the ‘biographical we’when caring for a partner with a severe, chronic illness. Sociology of health & illness, 38(5), pp.782-796.
  • Armstrong, D., 2014. Chronic illness: a revisionist account. Sociology of health & illness, 36(1), pp.15-27.
  • Baum, F. and Fisher, M., 2014. Why behavioural health promotion endures despite its failure to reduce health inequities. Sociology of health & illness, 36(2), pp.213-225.
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  • Martin, D., Nettleton, S., Buse, C., Prior, L. and Twigg, J., 2015. Architecture and health care: a place for sociology. Sociology of health & illness, 37(7), pp.1007-1022.
  • Nettleton, S. and Green, J., 2014. Thinking about changing mobility practices: how a social practice approach can help. Sociology of health & illness, 36(2), pp.239-251.
  • Ong, B.N., Rogers, A., Kennedy, A., Bower, P., Sanders, T., Morden, A., Cheraghi‐Sohi, S., Richardson, J.C. and Stevenson, F., 2014. Behaviour change and social blinkers? The role of sociology in trials of self‐management behaviour in chronic conditions. Sociology of health & illness, 36(2), pp.226-238.
  • Riessman, C.K., 2015. Ruptures and sutures: time, audience and identity in an illness narrative. Sociology of Health & Illness, 37(7), pp.1055-1071.
  • Rogers, A. and Pilgrim, D., 2014. A sociology of mental health and illness. London: McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Veenstra, G. and Burnett, P.J., 2014. A relational approach to health practices: towards transcending the agency‐structure divide. Sociology of health & illness, 36(2), pp.187-198. Waring, J., Allen, D., Braithwaite, J. and Sandall, J., 2016. Healthcare quality and safety: a review of policy, practice and research. Sociology of Health & Illness, 38(2), pp.198-215. Weiss, G.L. and Lonnquist, L.E., 2017. The sociology of health, healing, and illness. London: Routledge.

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