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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Inequality in Health Outcomes

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Department
Sociology
Course
Sociology 3308F/G
Professor
Kim Shuey
Semester
Winter

Description
Lecture 2: Inequality in Health Outcomes  Positive relationship between good health and ranking higher in the social structure o Social class, gender, race/ethnicity Fundamental Cause Theory  Much of our focus is on proximate causes of disease o Obesity, stress, smoking o Socioeconomic status (distal)  proximate causes  health outcomes (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression)  One of the main approaches to study health and equality  Health research needs to take a step back and look at distal causes of health  Argues that we need to contextualize risk factors o Understanding why people are exposed to particular risk factors o OR why they are more protected from disease/risk factors o How difficult it is for some people to avoid risk factors and understanding why some people don’t have to resources to protect themselves from disease  Socioeconomic status shapes exposure to virtually all risk factors o How risks and health outcomes have changed over time and whether social class has become more or less risky over time  E.g. poor people in the 1800 were more at risk of contracting diseases because their living conditions were worse/less hygienic than those in wealthier/better living conditions  Risk factors have changed – we now worry about a whole different set of health risks (cancer, etc.) o People with more advantages with respect to resources benefit more from new capacities to control disease and death  The more resources you have, the better your health is  As we learn more about health and prevention, it doesn’t benefit everyone equality because of social location – knowledge is more beneficial to those with more power/resources  SES fundamental cause of health – adaptive to new knowledge that we develop  What it is about people’s lives that exposed them to risk and prevents them from using the knowledge we have concerning how to stay healthy Social Class and Health  4 interrelated components: o Economic status: financial wellbeing, household income, whether someone experiences economic hardship, poverty status, etc.  Money can effect stress levels, which effects health in many ways o Occupation:  Effects economic conditions, physical conditions, prestige o Social capital: (dis)advantage created by relationships with others  Whether we have the types of relationship and connections that facilitate our economic status, educational attainment, etc. o Education  Education strongly related with health (mental, physical, etc.) Education and Health  Education influences… o Position in the social structure  Resources coming out of education  Higher education, associated with higher income, higher paying/less dangerous job, higher degree of social capital, etc  Opens up the opportunities available to people and removing constraints o Learned effectiveness/effective agency  More personality/behaviorally related  We think of education as building a set of skills that helps individual becoming more effective at solving problems and making decisions that better their health  Individuals who are more educated need less money to fend off the hardship they encounter because they are better able to use their knowledge/skills even without a large amount of money o Locus of control: where people place responsibility for what happens to them in their lives  Where individuals conceptually place responsibility, choice, and control for events in their lives
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