SOSC 1801 Study Guide - Final Guide: Rofecoxib, In Essence, Canada Health Act

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March 26, 2012
EXAM REVIEW
COURSE GOALS
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
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
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.
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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
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Document Summary

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. By virtue of living in toronto for example, a person can be exposed to pesticides thus proportionately a cause of cancer. There are a lot of barriers that prevent us from looking at the environmental causes of cancer. Health and safety of occupations directly due to: inherent risks of a job, 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, 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.

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