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Social Determinants of Health - Readings .docx

Health Sciences
Course Code
HS 1002A/B
Jessica Polzer

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Bring on the Duelling Top 10’s Joseph Tropiano
Everyday we are given advice about how to be healthy:
Don’t smoke
Eat a balanced diet
Be physically active
All of the these factors relate to lifestyle, adapting to your social
The environment is also called the socio-economic determinants of
Became mainstream when Marc Lalonde, the health minister of
health and welfare at the time, issued his landmark report, New
Perspectives on the Health of Canadians
General living conditions contribute more to long term health status and
mortality rates than lifestyle practices
With this in mind, one could make another list:
o Don’t be poor
o Pick you parents well
o Get an education
Most of these things are out of someone’s control
If we want to be healthy, we need a health care system that delivers state of
the art sickness care, as well as an environment and culture that supports
healthy living
The countries with the best health outcomes and the highest life expectancy
have the smallest income gap between the rich and poor

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The Forest and the Trees Joseph Tropiano
Diverse groups are better with problems that require creative solutions
Diverse groups bring language barriers and customs that may irritate or
confuse others
Difference is used as a basis for inequality
o This creates division and resentment that disturbs community life
People belonging to privileged groups are reluctant to talk about it
o Ex When the subject of racism comes up, white people would become
silent, or become angry as if they were being personally attacked for
something they didn‟t do
o Minorities may not bring up the issues they are facing because of the
negative reaction of people in these privileged groups
o Why does this happen?
People tend to think in terms of individuals
o Society is nothing more than a collection of people living at the same
time in the same place
If we follow this ideology, then social problems must come down to flaws in
individual character
o If evil consequences occur in social life, it is because of evil people and
their evil ways and motives
Individualism can be traced to the work of William James, a psychologist
o Ideology deepened with the work of Freud and his theory of inner
You can‟t have a social relationship without people to participate in it and
make it happen, but the people and the relationship aren‟t the same thing
o Scatter a thousand trees, and all you have is a thousand trees
o Take those same trees and it is considered a forest
The same individual trees in one case constitute a forest and in
another case are just a lot of trees

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o The key to understanding social life is neither just the forest nor just
the trees. It‟s the forest AND the trees and how they‟re related to one
Sociology is the study of how all of this happens
Social Systems
The “Larger” things that we participate in
The concept of a system refers to any collection of parts or elements that are
connected in ways that cohere into some kind of whole
People can participate in systems without being parts of the systems
o People aren‟t systems and systems aren‟t people
o Ex Someone walks into a wedding scene because their car broke
So long as the visitor can accurately identify the social system in
which she is participating and her position in relation to it, she
will be able to behave appropriately without violating the
expectations that go with that situation
Social systems can have an existence that we can describe all by itself and
exists whether or not anyone is using it at the moment
o We view them as external to us and therefore not ours to shape
however we please
People aren‟t systems, and systems aren‟t people, which means that social
life can produce horrible or wonderful consequences without necessarily
meaning that the people who participate in them are horrible or wonderful
o Ex The system of war is cruel, but the people who participate in them
are soldiers who are brave
Because we occupy a variety of social positions within each system, we tend
to experience each situation differently. We are shaped by it differently,
limited by it in different ways, and therefore tend to participate differently
Path of Least Resistance
Could be reason why people laugh at racist jokes even if they aren‟t racist
The path of least resistance in one system is a path of much greater
resistance in the other
o This produces “Role Conflict”
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