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SOCI 1002 (204)
Lecture 8

Lecture 8: Health

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SOCI 1002
Tamy Superle

Lecture 8: Health and Illness Death and Dying  Death and dying aren’t just religious, philosophical, and medical issues, but a social problem as well  Attitudes toward death as well as settings within which death typically takes place vary widely across time and place  In Canada today, dying and death tend to be separated from everyday life  Death is a socially constructed idea  The fears, hopes, and orientations people have towards it aren’t instinctive but are learned from such public symbols as the languages, arts, and religious, and funerary rituals of their culture  In contemporary, industrial societies death is seen as unnatural because it largely has been removed from everyday life  Most deaths occur among older person and in institutional settings Death Ethos  Every culture has a coherent mortality thesis whose explanations of death are so thoroughly ingrained that they’re believed to be right by its members  Historically, death has been a common occurrence at all stages of the life course  Until the 20 century, there was a small chance an infant live to adulthood  Poor nutrition, infectious diseases, accidents, and natural disasters led to higher death rates What is Health?  Numerous definitions of healthy and unhealthy, and normal and pathological  Definitions vary widely between academic, professional, and popular (lay) accounts  Health, illness, and disease are problematic categories  Time, space, place, and context produce different definitions Levels of Analysis  Comparative (between societies and over time)  Societal (comparisons of different classes, education levels, genders, religiosity, ethnicities, rural/urban locations, etc.)  Lifestyle (behaviours)  Meaning of morbidity and mortality to individuals Health and Social Order  Definition of health is social o What is considered healthy varies across culture, classes, etc.  Causes of health are social o Class and gender lead to different levels of health, sickness, and rates of death  Consequences of health are social o Rates of sickness and death vary across time and space Social Causes of Health and Illness  Lifestyle factors  Human-environment factors  Factors related to the public health and health care systems Lifestyle Factors  Lack of nutritious diet  High risk behaviours  Lack of exercise  Smoking  These are individual decisions, but can also be influenced by social factors Human-Environment Factors  Environments can foster good and bad health  Environmental Racism: polluting industries disproportionately located near first nations communities or areas populated by other marginalized groups Public Health and Health Care Systems  Absence of a public health system is associated with high rates of disease and low life expectancy  Includes access to clean drinking water, basic sewage, and sanitation Sick Role  Parsons: the sick role is defined to prevent sickness from disrupting social life  Institutionalizes a potentially deviant behaviour, it entails: o Rights (freedom from normal social roles and freedom from blame) o Duties (to want to get well and to cooperate with technically competent help) Inequalities of Health  Health and illness resul
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