Critically Assess Sociological Explanations for Inequalities in Health by Gender

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Critically Assess Sociological Explanations for Inequalities in Health by Gender  

Inequalities in health happen.  They are not just a biological fact, if they were purely biological we would see health and illness randomly occurring across the population, with virtually everyone having a similar chance of being ill, this is not the case.  Inequalities in health both physical and mental vary depending on what class, ethnic or gender group that you may belong in.  Sociologists have attempted to explain why men and women have different health chances, how gender roles are socially constructed, and are learnt through the process of socialization and not biologically determined.  These social variations are assessed and explained within four general approaches of health inequalities. 

The social constructionist approach or artefact theory suggests that health inequalities are not actually as unequal as they first seem.  Alison Mcfarlane suggests that ‘the statistics are misleading’.  An example of how morbidity rates are being exaggerated is that, women see their GP more frequently than men do and they report more illnesses.  This is probably because women are more sensitive to the symptoms of illness and family health.  It is much easier for the women/mother to see their GP than a man because generally their partners are the full-time worker, which makes it harder for them to see a doctor.  Women are more likely to be labelled by their GP when it comes to psychiatric diagnoses.  Szasz(1966) argues that such labels are confusing, e.g. the label of ‘clinical depression’ may disguise the fact that someone is very miserable

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The approach further suggests that the statistics could also be wrong because of the lifestyles that men are socialized into.  Men do not consult their GPs as often as they should, they have a need to be more tolerant to pain and illness, so they tend to use ‘over the counter’ drugs rather than seeking medical advice.

A major criticism of the social constructionist approach is that women, even though they consult their GP more than men do, they do not always go about an illness.  If you do not take into account all the times that a woman goes ...

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The writer could have clarified what s/he considered a health inequality to be. When writing in relation to the social constructionist approach, the writer seems to believe that a health inequality is women going to see their GP more frequently than men. This would not generally be the shared view amongst sociologists of health inequalities. It is therefore not clear if the writer understands the concept. There are some statements which need a reference to support them, and the conclusion should be much stronger. Gender inequalities exist - what can be done to reduce them? The writing style is good overall. 3/5