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Social Science
SOSC 1801
Jon Johnson

March 26, 2012 E XAM R EVIEW C OURSE G OALS  How health controversies often result from cultural, political and economic struggles among different social groups and how scientific knowledge is constructed, used and manipulated in these struggles – who are the groups, motivations, resources, discourses, strategies etc. that they use to fulfill their goals  How political, economic, historical and socio-cultural factors influence health, illness and healing and how illness is patterned in society according various forms of inequality, marginalization and power differences E NVIRONMENTAL H EALTH  Cancer  Evidence linking cancer to environmental causes o 3 main arguments to causes of cancer – refer to the McKinley model – Cancer may be genetic, but can be a result of at-risk behaviors (i.e., smoking), or environmental causes (i.e., pesticides). By virtue of living in Toronto for example, a person can be exposed to pesticides thus proportionately a cause of cancer. We have a genetic focus of the causes of cancer – but it depends on environmental factors that could heavily influence whether or not you get cancer; and these things are often overlooked o Occupational (i.e., nurse, radiological technicians – exposed to radiation etc., agricultural workers – exposed to pesticides) temporal and geographic evidence  There are a lot of barriers that prevent us from looking at the environmental causes of cancer.  Barriers preventing awareness of and action on environmental causes of cancer o Methodological barriers (i.e., time-lag, risk assessment – only measure one chemical/problem/product at a time for its harmful effects/carcinogenicity – doesn’t embrace the complexity of things we ‘re exposed to in that we’re exposed to different things that might each have threats of cancer, but together they might exceed that threshold, scientific uncertainty – there’s a lot of evidence, but not what we’d call “scientific proof”) o Political, economic and ideological barriers (i.e., biomedical focus on individual treatment, lack of funding – focus on environmental causes might result in the retrenchment of the economy to prevent cancer because it would mean that certain industries might take a hit (i.e., asbestos/pesticides etc.), financial interests, conflicts of interests PR  I.e., Rachel Carson – scientist who was disparaged – helps to illustrate ideological barriers when you try to change the status quo, cancer charities – by virtue of their funders/donors, they tend to self-center thus lessening their focus on cancer – power struggles  Occupational Health and Safety  Health and safety of occupations directly due to o Inherent risks of a job o The way work is organized by employers/gov’t  I.e., Modern Times – not only was the work dangerous, but it was even more dangerous because of the pace that he had to work, asbestos, ship-breaking, Workers’ Compensation etc. 1  There’s a class dynamic/tension between workers and employers – inherent class struggle. Employers don’t have the same interest in ensuring workplace safety than the worker does – it’s not the employer that’s affected, and the employer has an interest to push the worker to his/her limits to promote profit etc. Thus, they make decisions based on a balancing scale – what’s the cost-benefit ratio etc.  The employer is not getting hurt, they’re benefiting from not having to provide safety equipment, training etc.  Safety of work and class (Marxist analysis) o Poorest, least skilled, least educated and minorities concentrated in riskiest jobs – if you have a university education, you might get a safer/better/higher paying job than if you belong to a particular racial group, gender etc. It’s the working class that has the highest rate of work exploitation because they don’t have the power to lobby against it o Workers bear all risks while employers reap profit  Environmental Racism  Exposure to toxic chemicals is highly determined by racial/minority status and poverty  Due to racism and political, economic, cultural, social and geographic marginalization o Toxic areas are cheaper o Polluters offer financial incentives for pollution – if you’re poor, you’re much more willing to accept incentives because they’re offering to lift you out of poverty; this is a double edge sword because if you take this offer, you’re taking in pollution o Poor/racialized communities are less often informed of pollution o Poor/racialized communities have less power/resources to fight o Poor/racialized communities take longer to clean up pollution  I.e., case studies that illustrate environmental racism: Diamond, Los Angeles (SLIDES: Hispanic communities – where they’re more dense, that’s where the toxic waste sites are most dense – due to racism? Other forms of political marginalization? Poverty?), Grassy Narrows (readings), Western Shoshone  Popular Epidemiology  PE involves trying to counter-act this idea that people are trying to not be accountable, and it’s trying to enforce accountability  Lack of awareness of an inaction on toxic sites: o Pressure, manipulation and avoiding accountability by polluters o Lack of power/resources in marginalized communities – can’t get the government to act on their behalf and have a hard time getting industries to stop sites o Scientific/biomedical hegemony and methodology  Popular epidemiology creates awareness and action on toxins by o Focusing on the role of inequality and holding powerful groups responsible o Challenging scientific, corporate and government authority o Aiding efforts of traditional epidemiology  PE is more political than traditional epidemiology – very different approaches to trying to figure out the differences between waste and health, but they’re also compatible  I.e., Love Canal Home Owner’s Association – one of the first things they tried to do was to go to the government, they work to try to force through pressure, media campaigns etc. to force people to be accountable to the pollution they caused – struggle between marginalized poor community and large-scale actors (i.e., U.S. government, hooker company etc.), Woburn 2 H EALTH C ARE  Public vs. Private Care  Current Canadian health care system o Private and public delivery, but single public payer (government)  Only hospital/physician services covered – as soon as you leave the hospital, you have to start payin
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