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Sociology Coursework

Free essay example:

Candidate Name: Khadija Khanom

Candidate Number: 6415



  • Hypothesis                                                             3
  • Aims _                                                                     3
  • Introduction _                                                   3-4
  • Methodology                                                   5
  • Questionnaire-(pilot study)                            6
  • Results & Analysis                                        7-9
  • Conclusion                                                            10
  • Evaluation                                                  _            11
  • Bibliography                                                   12                

Coursework title:

An investigation into the link between social class and health.


My hypothesis is to find the link between social class and health.


  • Do middle class people visit the doctor more than working class people?
  • Do middle class people exercise more?
  • Are middle class people more likely to eat a healthier diet?
  • Are working class people more likely to smoke?


I have decided to do my coursework on this title because I would like to investigate if there is difference or link in health between social classes and how a person’s social class affects their health. Social class is an open system of stratification consisting of broad groups of people who share a similar economic situation, such as occupation, income and ownership of wealth. If a person is of good health it means that they are able to function normally within a usual everyday routine.

 This topic in particular interests me because I think there is a difference in health between the social classes, so therefore I would like to find out what the main factors of  someone’s social class are which cause these differences in health.

 I also found this issue interesting whilst we were studying it because it affects every one of all ages and how a person’s diet and every day life style could affect their life chances. There are two types of explanations for the social class inequalities in health. The first one, The cultural explanation which suggests that those suffering from poorer health have different attitudes, values, and lifestyles which mean they do not look after themselves properly. Examples of this might include smoking too much, using too much salt or sugar, eating junk food, or not bothering to take any exercise. The other explanation is The material explanation which suggests that those suffering poorer health lack enough money to eat a healthy diet, have poor housing, dangerous or unhealthy working conditions, live in an unhealthy local environment, etc.

Poverty is the main factor that leads to ill health. People who die youngest are often people who are unemployed and live on benefits or earn very low wages. Having a low income would lead to many problems that affect a persons health. For example that person will be lacking from decent medical health. Not having enough money means; unhealthy food, poor housing, living in industrial areas with the danger of busy roads and pollution, poor education, lack of exercise, long hours and dangerous working conditions at work, stress which leads to smoking and drinking too much and many other factors that affect a persons health, due to the lack of money they earn. A person’s social class obviously depends on what their occupation is and the amount of money they earn, so therefore those earning a little amount of money are those from the lower classes who are the poor.


                         Life expectancy at birth: by social class and sex, 1997-99, England & Wales

“Manual workers die earlier than others. For the period 1997-99, life expectancy at birth in England and Wales for males in the professional group was 7.4 years more than that for those in the unskilled manual groups. The gap between the social classes was smaller for women than for men, at 5.7 years.”(National Statistics online)

The NHS is also to blame for the social class differences in health because of the inverse care law. Those from the lower classes suffer from more dangerous illnesses than those of the middle class; however the middle class patients are given the most resources whilst the working class get the least. Working class areas have more crowded facilities in the NHS as most poor people suffer from illnesses; this means they have longer waiting lists and not much time with their GPs unlike the middle class. (Ken Browne)

However I have also found this little section of information from doing some research on the internet, I will try and find out if this relates in anyway to the research I am going to do.        

“Wealthy kids not always healthy

Children from poorer families do not necessarily have worse health than those with more affluent and better educated parents, research shows.

A British Medical Journal study looked at insulin resistance - which ups the risk of diabetes and heart disease - in relation to socioeconomic status.

Among Danish schoolchildren, those with highly educated and big earning parents were the least insulin resistant.

However, the opposite was true for children from Estonia and Portugal.”


The research method I will use is the quantitative research method. I will use questionnaires to collect my data as this will give me statistics, for example, I would like to find out if people from different social classes smoke or not, or the type of food they eat. I am going to hand my questionnaire out to 20 people and I will be expecting to get them back on the same day. The results I will gather will be quantitative data which is reliable for my research. Using my results I will make tally charts which will then take me further onto making graphs, so my data will be easy to read and help me come to a conclusion of my aim. The sampling method that I am going to use is the simple random method. My sampling frame will consist of adults who are working; I need to make sure that the people I select to fill my questionnaire in are a combination of people from working class and middles class. This is important because if I do not have a combination of people from different social classes, I will not be able to compare the classes with their health and see if a person from the middle class differentiates from a person from the working class by health. By finding out what their job is I can figure out to what social class they belong to and then move onto find out whether there is a link between their social class and their health.

        I have chosen to use the quantitative research method instead of the qualitative research method because I need basic answers that are reliable and which will give me statistical data. I am using questionnaires instead of structured interviews because questionnaires are less time consuming and easier as I can get more people involved. My questionnaire will consist of closed questions as I am only trying to get statistics. The questionnaire is going to be pre-coded I am trying to find out whether a person smokes or not, rather than why they smoke. I will also get the same kind of answers if I asked the questionnaire questions at an interview so I am better off giving out questionnaires.

        The questions I put on my questionnaire have to be very well thought about, I need to make sure I take ethical issues into account, being aware of my questions not harming or offending anyone in any way.

        Questions I have on my questionnaire that may offend someone may be one such as, “What is your occupation?” Some people for example an unskilled manual worker may feel ashamed of his/her job or some people may just not want to share what their occupation is with me. Another question in my questionnaire that people may not want to answer would be, “Do you smoke?” as smoking can be something personal. However I can not do anything about this issue because both of these questions directly link to my hypothesis, as I need to find out what a persons occupation is in order to be able to tell their social class. As for asking a person if they smoke or not is also vital as that is one of my aims that I need to find out.

        I will try to avoid these situations by whilst handing my questionnaire out I will assure the respondents that the information will be confidential. I am hoping this will make the respondents feel secure about the information they give me and that they answer the questions truthfully in order for me to get reliable results.

Pilot Study:


I am doing some research on link between social class and health. Please fill in the questions below. Tick the correct boxes which apply to you and state where relevant, any other information required.

  1. What is your occupation?


2) How often do you visit your doctor?

Every weekimage01.png                    Every monthimage01.png        Otherimage01.png

Every two weeksimage01.png           Every two months image01.png

Every three weeksimage01.png         Annuallyimage01.png

If other please specify how often


3) Do you take part in any exercise?

      Yesimage01.png        Noimage01.png

            If yes, which type of exercise do you take part in?


How often do you do this?

Every dayimage01.png                      Every three weeksimage01.png         Otherimage01.png

Every weekimage01.png                   Every monthimage01.png

Every two weeksimage01.png           Every two months image01.png


4) Which meal do you have more often?

Takeaway mealsimage01.png         Home cooked mealsimage01.png

5) Do you have five fruits/ vegetables daily?

      Yesimage01.png        Noimage01.png

6) Do you smoke?

Yesimage01.png              Noimage01.png

Thank you for your time and corporation.

Results and Analysis

The result that I am expecting form doing my research is that there is a link between health and social class, and that people from the middle class are healthier than those of the working class.

How often they visit their doctor

Working Class

Middle Class

Every week



Every two weeks



Every three weeks



Every month



Every two  months










These results are telling me that majority of the working class visit their doctor annually, whilst the majority of the middle class said other and wrote either every three or four months.

If they take part in any exercise



Working class



Middle class




Overall middle class people do more exercise than the working class people.

Which meal they have more often


Home cooked

Working class



Middle class




Middle class people have more takeaways than the working class, and the working class have more home cooked meals than the middle class.

Do they have five fruits/vegetables a day?



Working class



Middle class




More people from the middle class have their five portions of fruits/vegetables daily, compared to how many people from the working class have it.

Do they smoke?



Working class



Middle class




The working class smoke more than the middle class people.


        From doing my research using my questionnaire I have found that there is link between social class and health, I have found that your health depends on your social class. Those of the middle class are healthier overall than those of the working class. My aims have helped me to solve my hypothesis as by finding out whether someone smokes or not, if they take any exercise or not, what they eat and how often they visit the doctor has helped me to come to a conclusion about my hypothesis. My aims overall sum up a persons life chances. Visiting the doctor, exercising regularly, eating healthily and smoking are the key factors which decide a persons life chances. As those of the working class do not have much money they do not receive much healthcare education and therefore do not visit the doctor, do not exercise regularly, do not eat a healthy diet and are more likely smoke. These factors are a great influence on how a person does in life. This shows those of the working class do not do so well which leads to very limited life chances.  

The data I have gathered relates to the secondary data that I have put in my introduction. I have found out the same thing to which my secondary data suggested that middle class people are healthier than the working class. I stated the factors that affect a person’s health in my secondary research and I have also found the common factors in my own research.

Everything that I predicted that would happen in my results from the questionnaire took place, for example, I predicted the working class would smoke more than the middle class and I was correct. However there was a question to which I predicted the results to be that working class people have more takeaway meals and middle class people have more home cooked meals, but the end result turned out to be working class people have more home cooked meals whilst the middle class have more takeaways. I think this may have been the result because middle class people are busier and would not have the time to stay at home and cook meals. The working class people have less things to be doing or maybe not as important things to be doing so they have spare time to cook their meals fresh. It can also be the case that takeaway in some situations, especially nowadays are becoming healthier so therefore they cost more, the reason to why which the working class stick to home cooked meals. As well as home cooked meals being cheaper than takeaways in some cases, home cooked meals can also be unhealthy, depending on what the meal consists of. If a person of the working class is having a home cooked meal it is not very likely that everything will be healthy and fresh everyday as this is expensive.  I think that thisis probably one of the main reasons for obesity which is seen more in the working class than middle class. This is clear evidence that class does affect health in positive and negative ways depending on which part of the hierarchy a person belongs to. This also in a way can relate back to my secondary data where I found an article on wealthy kids not always being healthy.

        A working class person overall is unhealthier than a person from the middle class. My results related well to things I wanted to find out.


        As I was carrying out my research I found that using questionnaires was quiet simple and straight forward as they were very easy questions asked. However it was a bit difficult when it came to thinking about the wording of the questions. For example if I asked “Do you do a good amount of exercise?” it will be difficult to measure “good” as an hour a day may mean good to one person but to another once a week may be good. Because of this I had to be very conscious about how I wrote my questions out.

The strengths of my method were that it was easily carried out, efficient and very successful as my findings were as accurate and precise as possible. The weaknesses were that I did not give good enough options or clear enough options for the respondents to reply to. For example in one of the questions I did not give precise options for the respondents to state how often the exercised.- Say what question and say how u could have changed it to make it more appropriate

        My data was reliable as I got it straight of the respondents and had no sort of bias. I handed my questionnaire out to ten working class people and ten middle class people. This made it fair as I had the same number of participants from both sides. However my research was done on a very small scale, this means that the data I collected was not enough to represent any information. Because it was on a very small scale it will not at all be a reliable overall representation of the UK. This means it would have to be repeated and extended to improve the overall results and findings.

        If I were to do this investigation again I would most definitely make some changes to my questionnaire. I will take into account the practical issues such as time planning and organisation. This was a great downfall on my investigation as I ran out of time, as if I had more time I could have improved on some areas which need to be looked upon. I would most definitely do my survey on a larger scale so I could get representative results. My method which was using questionnaires could have been more detailed giving me more reliable results.

Even though I tried very hard to keep my questions as simple as possible and not misleading I managed to get a question to which the options were not very clear. The question was asking how often the respondent exercised. I gave options such as every two weeks, every three weeks, every month and every two months. Then I realised that I should have given options such as every two or three days, etc. The options I gave were not good enough because no one exercises monthly or after every two months. The questions itself was too broad and was not precise enough so this made recording it very difficult. So this is something I would also change if I did the investigation again, change the questionnaire.

        Another aspect that I would take into consideration when doing the questionnaire is to make sure that all the questions were ethically reasonable and were not of offence anyone. I would also have to give appropriate amount of choices to questions, making sure that there is enough to get an accurate answer and be suitable to be able to turn it into quantitative data.


Author:        Year Published:        Publisher:

Ken Browne                                   (1998)                                         Polity



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