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Sociological Theories to Explain the Determinants of Health

Write an essay addressing the topic of sociology analyzing the social determinants of health and utilizing sociological theories to explain them and discuss how it differs from the medical model.

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Added on  2023-06-10

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This article discusses the conflict theory and the functionalist theory in health sociology. It also explains the biomedical and social models of health.

Sociological Theories to Explain the Determinants of Health

Write an essay addressing the topic of sociology analyzing the social determinants of health and utilizing sociological theories to explain them and discuss how it differs from the medical model.

   Added on 2023-06-10

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HEALTH SOCIOLOGY 0
HEALTH SOCIOLOGY
SOCIOLOGY
7/19/2018
Sociological Theories to Explain the Determinants of Health_1
HEALTH SOCIOLOGY 1
INTRODUCTION
The term sociology deals with proper, organized, and systematic study of the culture,
society, communication, interaction, and relationships of human beings. Sociology believes
that the society in which human beings resides depends upon the functioning of healthy
people and controlling their illness (Barry & Yuill, 2016). For the effective functioning of
society, one must have good health and proper medical care. Social disparity existing in the
society leaves an impact upon the quality of health of people. Factors that influence health
of an individual are social determinants such as social status, health practices on an
individual, health services and many more. Poor health conditions are result of socio-
economic, historical, and environmental factors. Sociological approach believes that the
analysis of illness and health are to be done based on social context. Various experts in the
field of health sociology gave different theories. Their views vary from each other in the
context of the sociological theory approach (White, 2016). Here, two theories, the conflict
theory and the functionalist theory are discussed below in detail.
SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES TO EXPLAIN THE DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH
THE CONFLICT THEORY
In a society, different social classes exist and based on these classes inequalities and
disparities are evident in the health care sector. This theory focuses on the fact that health
care reflects inequalities prevailing in the society. Living standard of poor is quite different
from a rich person. It is believed that rich people can afford services of doctors even if the
services provided by the doctor are costly as they are well to do and financially sound
whereas poor people are not that well off to afford the costly services of the doctor. So they
remain deprived of the services. The conflict theory also knows, as Marxist perspective of
illness approach believed that disparities existed in the quality and delivery of health
services. People from underprivileged background are more likely to get ill as compared to
others this is because of the fact that they do not have adequate access to the health care
facilities available to them. This theory believes that the cause of illness is lack of basic
amenities and poverty prevailing in poor section of society (Sociologygroup, 2017). The
father of conflict theory Karl Marx believed that this theory is all about dominant group and
minority group. It is believed that rich people enjoy doctors’ services as they have money
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Sociological Theories to Explain the Determinants of Health_2
HEALTH SOCIOLOGY 2
and high standard of living (Campbell, 2013). This approach accesses and analyses the
efforts taken by physicians. On one side, they believe themselves to be the qualified health
professional to diagnose the problem and give treatment to the people suffering from such
problem. On the other hand, they want to enhance their financial status by achieving
success in characterizing social problem as medical problem and establish monopoly in
treating these problems. Once the tag of medicalized is given to these problem then the
social root cause of problem is ignored (Thoughtsco, 2018). It is important to improve the
current health policy so that access to good and proper health care can be provided to the
poor, minority people and people living below poverty line. An Individual has to fight to
maximize their benefits and society remains in constant state of disequilibrium.
THE FUNCTIONALIST THEORY
Adversity in health of a person affects the functioning stability of a society. For the
effective and smooth functioning of society, proper medical care is required. This theory
focuses on the fact that a good health is necessary for proper and effective functioning of a
society and views the patient-physician relationship. American sociologist Talcott Parsons
gave the functionalist theory in the year 1951. Parsons said that a premature death prevents
an individual from carrying out their role in the society and gives inadequate return to the
society in terms of the cost occurred in birth and pregnancy of an individual who dies early.
A person with poor health faces more difficulty to become healthy and the one who is
healthy may prone to illness (Varul, 2010). Parsons considered several expectations, which
refer as a sick role. Firstly, a sick individual should not consider as causing health problems
on his or her own. For example, if a person is doing rash driving and met with an accident
then no one will feel sympathize towards him whereas in case if the driver get skid due to
adverse weather conditions then the case will be different the person will gain sympathy of
other people. Secondly, no one wants to remain sick and wants to get well soon. Thirdly, it is
expected that sick people have confirmed their illness with a certified medical practitioner
and properly following his instructions in order to get well soon (Prezi, 2013). A certified
physician also plays a vital role as they diagnose the illness of an individual, decides the
treatment, and helps an individual to get well. It is important for a physician that a patient
must cooperate and provides him with necessary details about his health conditions and
follows the instructions given by him. However, Parsons was right in giving emphasis to the
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Sociological Theories to Explain the Determinants of Health_3

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