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Health and Aging 1AA3 Exam Notes 2014 Fall Term (All Lecture/Course Notes)

Health, Aging and Society
Course Code
Geraldine Voros
Study Guide

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Health & Aging 1AA3
Stone Article
Decision Making: Stone and others – variables we might consider when making
1. Equality or Moral Relativity
“Who gets what, when, how”
“Alternate definitions of what is equitable”
2. Efficiency/Cost effectiveness
“Getting the most out of a given input”
“Costs vs. resulting benefits”
3. Security/Social Capital
“Need carries more weight than desire or deservingness”
“Objective need and objective programs”
4. Liberty/Individual vs. Collective Rights
“When should community or social purpose trump individual choice”
“John Stuart Mills response – “to prevent harm to others”
Jackson Article
Three Important Contemporary Approaches in the Social Sciences
1. The Positivist Approach / The Structural Functionalist Approach
2. The Critical Approach / Conflict Theory
3. The Interpretive Approach / Symbolic Interactionist Perspective, Grounded
Positivist / Structural Functionalist
Compte – Societies and three stages of development
1. Theological Stage
2. Metaphysical Stage
3. Positive Stage / Structural Functionalist Stage
oNeed to look at social facts objectively
oObserve the patterns
oPatterns of regularity can be studied statistically
oYou are entitled to you opinion but what are the statistical facts
(quantitative methods)
oSociologist began studying “medicine” in the 1950’s and 1960’s
oThe dominant paradigm or model was structural functionalist (positivist)

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Health & Aging 1AA3
o“This perspective viewed society as consisting of a number of social
institutions (social structures) that are interdependent and when
functioning properly ensure social order and stability
oThere were five institution included in the original paradigm/model and
we can add a sixth
oThe original paradigm: The Star Model (interdependent) Social
Determinants from the Structural/Functionalist View
oThe sixth institution added  Health
oFrom an institutions and roles perspectives – health and illness can be
understood as social roles (e.g. the stick role – Parsons and non-medical
sick role – others build on Parsons’ work)
oHealth concept evolves – illness care, health promotion, lay beliefs, formal
care, health behaviors
Telket Parsons – The sick role
If you fall ill, your are exempt from being responsible for that illness – it is not
your fault you’re sick
You have a duty to try and get better
Segall: you have a duty to engage in routine self-help management
Some of their concepts biomedical, some social
Medico-centric: medical institutions are the main players that determine what
counts as illness and what does not. They address the physical conditions of an
Compliance: professionals from the biomedical sphere dictate to the individual
what needs to be done; it is expected that the individual complies
The Critical Approach / Conflict Theory
Health and illness viewed as professional constructs that result from power
struggles between competing interest groups (Segall and Fries 2011)
One group tries to improve their status at the expense of less powerful groups
Researches feel the need to advocate for social justice eon the behalf of those less
Want us to be sensitized to the social injustice and the social problems in the
Want us to empower people and to create a more egalitarian society
Would like to impose moral absolutes in order to deal with inequalities

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Health & Aging 1AA3
Question how organized medicine attained and maintained in its position of
dominance in the health care field
Question how physicians acquired exclusive rights to diagnose and treat disease,
prescribe medication, do surgery, etc. and had these “rights” made legal by
The medical profession pre-empted competitors such as midwives, homeopaths,
Medical ideology convinced the population that they were the ultimate authorities
on health (“you are the doctor”)  allow them to do things we wouldn’t allow
others to do
Doctors accumulated a lot of power within western society – politically well
organized linked to a medical-industrial complex
Interested in quantitative analysis
Criticisms: focuses on inequality and conflict and loses sight of the prevention
aspect of contemporary medical practice (i.e. Aids issue)
The Interpretive Approach / Symbolic Interactionist Approach
Understand health and illness as interpersonal meanings  people socially
construct their reality given their lived experiences/interactions
Microscopic look at individual and their “human agency”  ability to determine
their lives, define their situation and define themselves in relation to others
Look at the vocabulary of motive – what are people saying that tells us how they
see themselves and others?
How do we influence others and they us?
How do we consult, negotiate order, and build consensus in a meaningful way?
Collect information via qualitative methods
Kleinman’s Figure Three Discussion: Popular Sector, Professional Sector, and Folk
Social Construction of Reality
Health care systems are socially and culturally connected
Universal health car is part of our social reality as Canadians
Does it play a part in our being one of the best places in the world to live?
The social reality of universal health care an ingrained value in our society
It becomes our social reality on two levels:
1. The external interpersonal environment we are situated in (norms,
communication with others)  readily available to us, everyone receives
the same treatment
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