Social Class.

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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.  In addition, average age at death for Liverpool gentlemen was 35 and 15 for labourers.  Although, life expectancy has improved for all classes, inequalities are still evident.    

In Britain, the first data that define class is the first Registrar General’s scale of 1911 used in measuring infant mortality.  British death certificate having been coded for social class based on occupation. This has enabled researchers to study the links between social class position and mortality rates.  

Although sociologists used RGN model for its convenience and insight information it provided but was replaced by The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification NS-SEC (2001) having been criticized for not conveyed enough information about today’s multirunged society.  Also, the level of skill attain on employment might not be the best method to use in measuring access to social resources, as class is not fixed for life; mobility can occur up and down the social structure thereby alter individual’s   position.  

NS-SEC is based on job, earning potential and prospects rather than skills graded British population into eight occupation hierarchy ranging from managerial and professional of class one to unemployed and never work in class 8.  

Evidence of marked social class-related inequalities in health chances brought about what subsequently became known as the Black Report in 1980 and re-published in 1990.  The Black Report is the first to report the evidence of relationship between an individual’s social classes and likelihood of lower class experiencing ill health than people from upper class.  The Report disclosed further that the gap in mortality rates between the rich and poor had actually increased between 1930 and 1970.  In 1930, 23% of unskilled workers were more likely to die prematurely than professional workers compared to likehood of 61% in 1970.    

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The Conservative government in power at the time did not seriously act on the report.

But further evidence from later research by Acheson Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health (1998) signaling a renewed interest,  in the links between health and social inequalities.  It was given that as we enter twenty first century, people of lower social class still experience much worse health than those at the upper class.  

This shows that although overall mortality rate had decline for all groups but they had fallen at slower space among working class despite the dramatically improvement in health standard ...

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