• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

health inequalities and socio-economic class

Extracts from this document...


Outline and evaluate the sociological explanations for health inequalities related to socio-economic class membership Over the past 100 years the health of UK residents has greatly improved. Factors such as clean water, sewerage systems, the development of vaccines, the birth of the NHS and innovations in medical science have all led to better health, overall. In 1980 the Black Report was published, it outlined the health inequalities present in modern day Britain and painted a bleak picture of the health of those belonging to relatively powerless groups in society. It contended that despite overall improvements to health, there were stark inequalities between higher and lower socio-economic groups. A range of sociological explanations have been offered to account for these differences, these, along with the types of health problems associated with socio-economic class membership, will be outlined and evaluated in this essay. Lower socio-economic classes are more likely to die younger and experience a range of health problems, including: Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), stroke, low birth weight, mental illness, smoking related illnesses amongst many others. They are more likely to work in dangerous jobs resulting in a high prevalence of work related illness; one example of this is working with toxic substances such as asbestos which has led to deaths from asbestosis in both workers and their families. ...read more.


The social selection approach contends that ill health is a cause rather than the result of low socio-economic position. It is argued that those with good health will 'rise to the top' of the socio-economic grouping as having good health is necessary to succeed in education and employment. Meadows (1961) found that sufferers of chronic bronchitis were more likely to experience downward social mobility than non-sufferers. In addition, Illsley (1980) found that higher socio-economic class or upwardly socially mobile females in Aberdeen had better health, better physiques, were taller and had babies with a higher birth weight than women in lower socio-economic groups. Although there is some evidence to support the claim that ill health is a cause rather than a result of belonging to lower socio-economic groups or being downwardly mobile there is more compelling evidence to support other explanations for health inequalities in the UK. The cultural/behavioural approach views health inequalities as being linked to the culture and behaviour of the lower socio-economic groups. This approach is influential in health promotion and has led to many initiatives to 're-educate' particular groups so that they are able to make more healthy choices in terms of their diets and risk behaviour, such as smoking and drinking. This explanation views the voluntary behaviour of the lower socio-economic classes as being the cause of their relative ill health. ...read more.


Poorer groups are more likely to be socially isolated or excluded, for example; many of the newer supermarkets, where food is cheaper, are now 'out of town' as lower socio-economic groups are less likely to have their own transport these supermarkets are less accessible and the poor may have to resort to shopping in local stores where food prices are higher. This could contribute to having to eat less nutritious food as this could be too expensive. Men from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to suffer work related illness, injury and death due to the hazardous nature of their jobs, it is not a choice to work in dangerous employment, rather, it is a product of the material conditions in which people live. The material deprivation of many areas means that there are limited facilities for leisure and exercise. Dangerous streets and the lack of green spaces in urban areas mean that lower socio-economic groups are less likely to be able to exercise. Poor health and mortality rates are not random but are patterned in relation to social group membership. Sociological explanations offer insight into why this is the case. Whilst some sociological explanations have more credibility than others, there is no one explanation that can fully explain health inequalities and socio-economic class. However, the most compelling explanations for health inequalities are offered by examining both the culture and behaviour of the different socio-economic groups and the material conditions in which they find themselves. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and asses sociological explanations for workplace inequalities between men and women

    5 star(s)

    Women are not necessarily meant to work, that is the role of the "instrumental" breadwinner male. He claims that the gender inequalities outlined by Beechy are based upon biology and the different biologically determined gender roles explain the lack of female employment and horizontal segregation.

  2. Identify current patterns of ill health and inequality in the UK. Explain probable ...

    (Health Survey for England 2007) This could be for a number of reasons: (National Statistics) * Nearly half (48%) of the total minority ethnic population of the UK live in the most deprived areas of London and deprivation is strongly linked to poor health and diet.

  1. Poverty and Health

    Explanation of the role of social policy in seeking solutions to poverty Social policy is the measures that the government puts in place regarding social issues and the wellbeing of the public. Surveys such as Rowntree and Townsend's have been influential in the creation of government policies which aim to provide a minimum of standards and social protection.

  2. Biomedical and the socio-medical models of health

    disease or the ill person is perceived by others and how that perception is acted upon. For example, perceptions of mental illness indicate how important the image or definition of the illness or ill person can be. Illness is what a particular society, at a specific point in time, for

  1. Outline and Assess the Usefulness of Conflict Theories in Explaining Social Class Inequalities in ...

    The Marxist theory of society states that there are two classes within society and that one exploits the other. Marxism ignores the presence of the middles class, workers who are not necessarily exploited. Society today is divided into three classes which deviates from the Marxism view of Capitalism.

  2. Changes in the social structure of education and its impact on class and gender ...

    Roughly the top 15-20% of pupils were awarded grammar school places. In theory this system was thought to be 'meritocratic', a phrase coined by Lord Young of Darlington, to describe a system whereby ability and effort decided ones place in society-"no barrier to success".

  1. Sociological models of health

    (Haralambos, 2008). They do not suggest that people are rejecting the biomedical approach to medicine just that they are more likely to use both models together and they concluded that over 80% saw a combination of both the biomedical and alternative approaches to be the most effective treatment strategy.

  2. Critically compare cultural and structural theories of the social patterning of health and illness.

    Every individual follows a norm in which they form a common identity. Meritocratic jobs rewarded people who have cultural capital as there were seen with more knowledge ability and skills to undertaken senior roles in society this is commonly cause by social stratification.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work