P1 Explain the principal social perspective P2 Explain different sociological approaches to health and ill health M1 Assess the biomedical and socio-medical models of health

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BTEC Diploma in HSC Level 3 (FIRST YEAR) UNIT 7

Task 1

P1 P2 M1

  1. Functionalist

The founder of functionalism was Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). He was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher.

Functionalism is a structural (macro) perspective that suggests that our behaviour is influenced by the society is organised. They believe that the institutions have a major impact on how we behave in the society. The individuals are constrained by the society, and the functionalists views the individuals in the society as a puppets.  Functionalists says we as an individual have little power about what we do and the institution influences us. This can be seen in society in form of laws, norms, values (norm underpins values), beliefs and relationship. This theory suggests that the individuals in the society must behave properly; otherwise, they are regarded as deviant and are punished.

Functionalism believes that every part of the society are interdependent with each other, which helps society to keep going. It is almost like a human body, where different parts of the body has a function together, which keep it alive and healthy; this is called organic analogy. For instance, the family helps by bringing up the next generation about the patterns of shared and stable behaviour that are called social order. Different social institution such as, legal system, political system, health system, family system and education system work together to maintain a stable society from generation to generation. For instance, the legal system provides laws, norms that underpin values, safety, discipline and order and the health system provides free health services, family system provides help in reproduction that increases the economy. All of these institutions together to form an ‘integrated whole’ society or social structure.  

The major function of these social constitutions are to make individual to follow the norms that underpins values and internalize them, which leads to value consensus. According to Talcott Parson, society is based on value consensus where shared and common values and behavioural norms lead to a common culture. Consensus is an agreement in the society about the values, and have freedom, equality, justice and fairness. These values are acquired by passing down from generation to generation, through primary socialisation. These values benefit everybody equally, some the example of values that exist in our society are right for equality, justice and privacy. There are mechanism of social control in the society, like punishment and rewards. Socialisation and social control ensure that there is equilibrium in the society. The process of socialisation achieves equilibrium in the society, whereas family, religion, law and mass media, which are the agents of socialisation, are responsible for maintaining the equilibrium.

The functionalist believes that the western societies are meritocratic, which means the system rewards the individual in the society based on their effort and talent and social mobility is possible in this system. They also believe that people in the society can achieve status by working hard and there is equality of opportunity in the society.

Talcott Parsons proposed the functionalist approach, which considers health and illness and assumes negative definition of health. He described that illness is a form of deviance that distracts proper functioning of the society, in the same way that crime does. Ill members in the society must perform a social role where sick role consists of four elements, two of which are right and responsibilities. The rights associated with the sick role was to be excused from normal social obligation and be cared for, whereas the responsibilities were to take steps to get better and co-operating with the medical professionals such as doctors. This view suggests that ill must be cared for and must be dealt with as soon as possible in order for the society to run smoothly.

  1. Marxism

The founder of Marxism is Karl Marx (1818-1883), who was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist and revolutionary socialist.

Marxism structural (macro) perspective, where our behaviour is determined by the way society is organised. The social institutions such as laws, rules and norms have big impact on how we behave and we are controlled by the society.

Marxists believes that the society is not interdependent, instead it believes that economy is the base or infrastructure of the society, and our behaviour depends upon the economy of the society. Marxists sees the society as a system that operates to make profit for the upper class. Whereas the working class are socially engineered to conform the needs of the upper class who benefit from the societies using capitalist economic system. Capitalists exists all around the world and the economies of industrial societies in the west are based on capitalism. Marxists explains that the capitalists economies compromises two main social class; the capitalists and the workers. The upper class people were the capitalists who were regarded as powerful, whereas the workers or the labours were the lower class people and were seen as powerless puppets.

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 The capitalists exploits the workers since they do not get recognition for what they do as get have minimum wage and make surplus profit by persuading the lower class to buy the goods by advertising. The capitalists are opposite of socialism since the capitalists control what we think and what we do, the working class people are ‘brain washed’ into accepting set of beliefs that benefits the capitalists. These messages are seen to be transmitted through the cultural institutions such as media, which are controlled by the capitalists to influence the workers. The capitalists creates the dominant values that benefits ...

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