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CH11 Cages and Health

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Sociology 2239
Alissa Mazar

CH 11- CAGE(s) and Health - Audre Lourde, who was born in 1934, is well known for her work as a poet and equal- rights activist - she was a black woman, a feminist, and a lesbian who grew up in Harlem in the 30s and 40s - her book Zami: A New Spelling of My Name documents her harrowing experience of working at Keystone Electronics, a plant that processed the quartz crystals used in radar equipment and radios - jobs in the plant were segregated by sex on the basis of traditional gendered ideologies, with the men cutting the crystals and doing the heavy work and the women X-raying and washing the crystals - Audre Lordes exposure to toxic and dangerous working conditions was not a random event; black working-class women were deliberately hired for jobs no one else wanted- evidence shows this trend continues today - Lourde developed breast cancer in the late 70s, and died at the age of 58 in 1992 - World Health Organization (2002) defines health broadly as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-bring and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity Inequality in Health: Some Current Perspectives and Critiques - recognition that health is influenced by a large number of psychosocial factors, including social support, stress, and psychological or personality dispositions - problematic, however, was the fact that these psychosocial risk factors had been identified in the absence of an integrating theory; hence much of the inequality in health remains unexplained - House (2001) draws on Link and Phelans research (2000) to argue that if we are to understand health inequality, we need an integrated theory revolving around macro- social factors as the fundamental causes of risk disease - if the analytic lens is shifted to the effects of race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status on psychosocial risk factors and health outcomes, a fuller picture of health inequality emerges Mortality, Morbidity, and Mental Health - health education and awareness, access to prevention, and the capacity to avoid risk factors (e.g. toxic neighborhoods)- all of which are resources held by members of the middle and upper classes- contribute to health advantage - Canadian women in the highest-income group have a life expectancy that is 3.2 yrs higher than that of women in the lowest-income group - Canadian men in highest-income group have 5 more years life expectancy than those men in the lowest income group - life-expectancy rates vary across regions of Canada, with those born in the territories having a 4yr lower life expectancy below Canadian average - nearly a 12 yr difference in life expectancy btw Inuit inhabitants and non-Inuit - infant mortality in Nunavut was nearly double Canadas national average in 2005 (10.0 deaths/1000 live births compared to national average of 5.4 per 1000) - life expectancies vary across different cities, as well as between cities and rural areas - health status correlated with income level, and further, that health status in some contexts deteriorates with incremental declines in income - in Saskatoon, infant-mortality rates for those born in low-income communities are more than 5 times higher than those of middle-income communities - low-income populations also 16 times more likely to attempt suicide than high-income - at issue is whether low income, education, and bad jobs results in poor health and increased risk of death or whether those with poor and declining health consequently experience lower income and education levels - both account for some of the SES variation in health - Phelan and colleagues argue that higher socio-economic status enables individuals access to greater flexible resources in protecting their health and enable them to better avoid and predict health risks - 47% of Canadians in the lowest income quintile report excellent or very good health compared with 73% of those in highest income quintile - Crompton (2000) finds in her retrospective of 100 years of health in Canada that even after 40 years of universal health care, low-come earners have higher rates of morbidity and lower life expectancies than those with higher incomes- these patterns continue to hold true - failure to recognize social determinants of health such as poverty, race, and gender has resulted in less effective and sometimes harmful treatment and research paths- recommendations for hormone therapy resulted in huge increase of breast cancer - by ignoring the impact of the social determinants of health such as the protective effect of socio-economic status, generalized recommendations from biomedical research may increase health risks - prevalence of mental illness also varies according to social advantage: the poor, young, ethnic minorities, and blacks have higher rates of mental illness than the well- to-do, older personas, ethnic majorities, and whites - 18% in lowest income quintile reported their mental health as fair or poor, compared to only 3.9 of the respondents in the highest income quintile - McLeod and Lively (2007) note two main streams in current stress research: one examines the extent to which different societal groups are exposed to chronic strains and stressful events and, in doing so, documents the effect of inequality on population mental health; the other focuses more on individual perceptions of stress and the resources or buffers at hand for maintaining mental health - development of psychosocial resources such as mastery, self-esteem, and the perception of control over ones environment, is hindered for those who encounter ongoing structural barriers and disadvantages - experience of childhood poverty manifests itself in higher rates of depression and antisocial behaviour throughout the life course- youth aged 10-15 from lower SES were 2.5 times more likely suffer from depression or anxiety disorders - neighborhoods with high chronic stressors in the form of material deprivation and residential instability are associated with depression - even the development of schizophrenia- psychiatric condition that is believed to have a strong genetic component- is linked to early work experience of noisome occupation conditions (such as noise, temperature extremes and fluctuations, hazards, and fumes) suggesting that class-linked stress may be a predisposing factor for the disease Box 11.1 Sarnias Emissions Affecting Health, Study Says - Sarnia is the most polluted in Ontario when it comes to smokestack emissions - According to the study, the Southwestern Ontario city released more dangerous chemicals in the air in 2005 than all the industries in Manitoba or New Brunswick or Saskatchewan, based on federal pollution data - worrisome health developments it cited were an excessive rate of girls births compared to boys for native women living on the reserve near the plants - a toll of asbestos-related diseases among Sarnia workers, considered one of the highest in the world - incidence of leukemia among women aged 25-44 in the county that is double the provincial rate Box 11.2 Poverty Takes
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