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Social Class.

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Introduction

Social Class Social class is grouping of people together and according them status in the society based on their social and economic standing. This form of social stratification as old as the society itself, is indebted to Marx (1883) and Weber (1864) theories. To Marx, social class is determined by two separate groups. The owners of factories, farms and raw materials; and the labourers working for their production. But Weber argued that social class is determined by individuals' skills and qualifications obtained when competing for work in the job market, which determines their social prestige, life-style and life-chances of enjoying good standard of living Gormley (1999).For example, people of same social hierarchy tend to earn similar pay, have comparable education, live in same environment and live to the same age. These two theorist's view of occupational differences and the impact on mortality and morbidity rate as since be the basis of sociologists measure of weakness in the society, particularly the gap in inequalities in health and illness among the classes in Britain. This has helped in adjustment to government's policies aiming to narrow the gap as much as possible. Socio economic class has been linked with health and life expectancy from birth through to old age since 18th century. For example, sociologists' research in UK consistently shows that the infant mortality rate is twice as high for children born to class five than it is for those born into class one. ...read more.

Middle

As there are many different health care services, such as primary, secondary, including specialist and mental health services; so are there many different ways in which the potential service user gains access to these services. However, the provision of a service that is free at the point of use does not necessary mean that there is equal access or that users receive equal quality of care. Le-Grand (1982) found in his research that access to health care is biased in favour of the non-manual socio-economic groups in terms of access, treatment and quality of care; compared to class ? social group. This has contributed partly to some social groups experience poorer health than others. Inequalities in health care is influenced by several "supply" factors: the geographical distribution and availability of primary care staff, the range and quality of primary care facilities, levels of training, education and recruitment of primary care staff, cultural sensitivity, timing and organisation of services to the communities served, distance, and the availability of affordable and safe means of transport. "Demand" factors such as lay health beliefs, knowing what services are available locally and wider socioeconomic influences, such as financial insecurity, social mobility and lack of informal carer support will also affect patterns of utilisation and access to health care. Higher rates of general practitioner (GP) consultation are associated with greater social and economic deprivation even after adjusting for need. ...read more.

Conclusion

The cultural/.behavioural explanation focuses on people's individual responsibility for their own health and the degree to which they jeopardise or enhance their chances of good health through the choices that they make about their lives. Evidence from the studies such as the "General Household Survey" (1993a) and the "Health Survey of England (OPCS) shows that people in lower social groups tend to lead more unhealthy lives because they smoke more, eat less healthy food and exercise les. In 1990, for example, 16% of professional men and women smoked compared with 48% of men and 36% of women in social class V (Central Statistical Office, 1993a). However, cultural and behavioural factors are still insufficient as a full explanation of health inequalities. As Marmot et al (1984) have shown , when a comparison is made between individuals from socio0economic groups I and V whose smoking, eating, drinking and exercise habits are broadly similar, health inequalities still persist. Therefore when looking at inequalities in health we must recognise that materialistic and cultural differences are probably the most important in explaining health inequalities in the UK. It appears that poverty and its associated culture are the main causes of poor health and the health choices of UK citizens. Differing behaviour and beliefs in people in different social classes may be responsible for health differences. People in lower social classes are known to have less healthy lifestyles and lower expectations of their health than those in higher classes: they inhale more smoke of smouldering dried tobacco leaves, take less exercise, drink more alcohol and have worse diets (Blaxter 1990, pl45). ...read more.

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