Textbook Notes (367,931)
Canada (161,511)
Sociology (1,511)
SOC100H5 (536)
Chapter 11

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Nathan Innocente

Chapter 11 First recall that some groups were more likely to die of the plague than others were This is a common pattern This fact suggests that health is not just a medical issue but also a sociological one The first task we set ourselves here is to examine the sociological factors that account for the uneven distribution of health in societySecond the story of the Black Death suggests that health problems change over time Epidemics of various types still break out but there can be no Black Death where sanitation and hygiene prevent the spread of diseaseLife expectancyis the average age at death of the members of a populationConversely one of the great shortcomings of modern medicine is its emphasis on hightech cures rather than on preventive and environmental measures According to the World Health Organization WHO healthis a state of complete physical social and mental wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity However when it comes to measuring the health of a population sociologists typically examine the negative rates of illness and death They reason that healthy populations experience less illness and longer life than unhealthy populations However over and above such natural causes of illness and death we can single out three types of social causes1Humanenvironmental factors Health risks arise from how human activity shapes the environments that people inhabit Some environments foster good health while others impose added risks for poor health For example the introduction of sour gas wells and logging operations around the reserves of the Lubicon First Nation in Alberta resulted in a dramatic increase in illness More than one in three members of the Lubicon population suffers from such health problems as tuberculosis respiratory difficulties and cancer at rates far above the national averageEnvironmental racismthe tendency for hazardous waste sites and polluting industries to be located near First Nations communities or areas populated by the poor the politically marginalized or certain visibleminority groups also contributes to lower levels of health For example in the 1980s the pulpandpaper industrys mercury poisoning of the EnglishWabigoon river system in western Ontario near the Manitoba border led to the virtual destruction of the Grassy Narrows Indians way of life and means of livelihood More recently patterns of atmospheric cycling have made the North a dumping ground for industrial chemicals thatare never used there The chemicals bioaccumulate delivering a higher level of toxic concentration to each level up the food chain As a result the breast milk of Inuit mothers is 10 times as contaminated as that of southern Canadian women This situation provides a striking illustration of how humanenvironmental conditions can cause illness and death
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