1A06 - Health & Aging
March 22, 2013
Health, illness, aging, and dying are socially constructed and structured by social
categories [ex. Class, gender, race, immigrant status, etc]
There's a positive relationship between socioeconomic status and health - Rich
experience better health than poor, including life expectancy but also morbidity
(disability) and premature mortality (ppl dying before they should)
The Hierarchy Stress Perspective - When we compare our situation to others, who we
feel are doing better, we experience stress and that can adversely impact our health
Health is structured by gender, women live longer than men by almost 6 years, including
ethnic, socioeconomic background
Because of this, most people explain this more of a women's issue - women tend to earn
lower pays, most likely to live in poverty. Men have a higher risk of dying. Men have
higher rates of suicide. Women tend to experience more morbidity compared to men -
Chronic illnesses (Ongoing condition, ex. auto immune disease)
Race and Ethnicity shape health - Aboriginals experience poorer health outcomes [life
expectancy, rates of disease / morbidity, infant mortality] More likely to die from
infectious diseases - concluded by their living conditions/living in unsanitary conditions
Immigrants - recent immigrants tend to have good health. Healthy immigrant effect - We
are selecting healthy people to immigrate to this country. New comers tend to experience
Multiple jeopardy hypothesis - if you belong to more than one low status group - female,
visible minority, immigrant - then the impact becomes cumulative
Older individuals experience better psychological well-being than younger
The point in your life where you start having problems with disability - that onset of
disability seems to be delayed, more Canadians are experiencing better health, many
more years of good health
The process of dying as socially constructed, we think about how and where people die,
in the past more people died at home surrounded by people which meant people
observed/witness death first hand. Today, most people die in hospital, we don't have the
same connection to death because we don't experience it first hand, it's more mysterious
and invisible to us.
Importance of social support, social stigma, social and public policy
Stigma is very important, looked at the connection with mental illness
For ex. If you get cancer - Poor you. If you get STD - You're stupid, how could you let
Stigma encloses them from getting help, telling their family/friends the problem which
can help Social Construction of Health and Medicine
Health care is socially constructed - varies over time & place.
Ex. Doctors (expand their market share/area of expertise/child birth) vs. Midwives
Dentistry - had to mobilize and advance their practises over other people who focus on
Privatization : Make publicly owned organizations like hospitals or clinics privately
owned. Profitization means making these organizations to make profit.
Contemporary Trends: Patient activism - that's us becoming more proactive about our
health and health care, more of us are more likely to question what our doctors tell us,
more of us want to seek second opinions and look online. We make our own choices for
our treatment. Alternative medicine - Acupuncture, some social groups want alternative
medicine, women are more likely, higher socioeconomic groups are more likely. Holistic
medicine - about the mind and body, the patient and the environment. Can include
Medicalization - More and more conditions get defined as diseases. Some say they are
not even conditions, they are just natural phases in life which get defined as medical
conditions. Ex: A.D.D, A.D.H.D, Some say women's body is medicalized.
Emilie Durkheim: suicide - most people thought it was psychological problems. Suicide
rates varied between gender, religion, status.
Talcott Parsons: sick role - when a person becomes ill and can't be a productive member
of society, it can harmfully impact others. People who are ill should be properly looked at
because it is important a lot of people don't get sick because if too little people go to
work/school it could really damage society.
Kathy Charmaz 1993 Good Days, Bad Days: The self in chronic illness and time.
She's using a symbolic framework, interviewed 90 people who experienced chronic
illness (people doing good sometimes because the illness fades, but some other times
chronic illness show up)
She's interested in looking at how people create meaning to their illness. How do they see
She asks: What does it mean to have a chronic illness? How does chronic illness affect
their sense of self? What is time like for these people during a sudden medical crisis?
(waiting for the result of a medical test), What mirrors of self does illness provide? 3 Ways people experience illness: Illness as interruption - Where the illness doesn't really
impact life too much. Intrusive illness - where the illness is intruding in their life. Illness
as emersion - people becomes totally absorbed by their illness.
The rest of us who don't have an chronic illness don't see time the same way people who
are ill do
David Rosenhan's 1973 experiment - Interested in labelling, how we label people and
diseases. Some labels are really stigmatizing. Did a study called "On being Sane in
Insane Places", he and people in his study checked themselves into mental hospitals in
the US, they were instructed to say the same thing to the admitting doctor/nurse. He
found that the staff didn't figure out that they were imposters, they found it difficult to get
discharged because they were considered mentally ill. They were discharged only when
they accepted that they were mentally ill.
March 27, 2013
How social class impacts health
SES and health are correlated
True or False?
SES is only related to health for the very poor. Once you are middle class there is