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Chapter 19

SOCIOL 1101 Chapter 19: Health & Medicine

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Ohio State University
Vincent Roscigno

Ch 19 - Health & Medicine    19.1 - The Social Construction of Health  ● Medical Sociology: ​The systematic study of how humans manage issues of health and illness, disease and disorders, and health care for both the sick and the healthy  ○ Ex) Doctor/patient relationship, the structure of health care, politics of and socioeconomics of health care, and how culture impacts attitudes toward disease and wellness   ○ More generally, medical + health sociologists: 1) explore the relationships b/t society and the body -> Social determinants of health. 2) Examine issues of health and stigmatization within culture. 3) Processes that were once largely biological, are arguably increasingly influenced by social forces and social decisions. 4) Inequality and status, norms and culture can shape healthy and unhealthy outcomes, access and behaviors -> body weight is a clear example  ● Society, eating & health as an example  ○ A dual example of a sociological approach to understanding the health and well-being : ​our relationship w/ food.  ■ Eating disorders  ■ Obesity   ● Culture, anorexia, & bulimia  ○ 90% of those w/ eating disorders are women   ○ 95% are b/t ages of 12 and 26  ○ Our diet culture (where thin = beautiful)  ■ 25% of men and 45% of women are dieting  ■ 60% of girls age 13 diet  ■ Over 80% of girls age 18 diet  ● Obesity epidemic in the U.S.  ○ 1990: 0 states > 15% obese  ○ 2010: 36 states > 25% obese   ○ We live in an “obesogenic” social environment  ○ Poverty also contributes to obesity   ○ Despite the fact that over 60% of adults are overweight, there remains a powerful stigma attached to obesity   ● More structural focus on health + inequalities  ○ Improvements in health and healthcare over time, yet they are not equally distributed among societies  ○ There are inequalities both within and b/t countries in health outcomes, health practices and health access   The Cultural Meaning of Illness  ● Our culture dictates what illnesses are stigmatized and are not, what’s considered disabilities and what’s not   ● Goffman said that social stigmas hinder ppl from fully integrating into society  ○ Stigmatization of Illness: ​Are those that are discriminated against and whose sufferers are looked down upon or even shunned by society   ○ We discriminate against mental illness, AIDS, + skin disorders  ● Contested Illnesses: ​Illnesses that are questioned or considered questionable by some medical professionals.​ Like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome  The Social Construction of the Illness Experience   ● Reality is a social construction   ● Culture plays a huge role in how a person experiences illness (it may define them or be used as a motivator)   The Social Construction of Medical Knowledge   ● Pregnant women in the 19th century were discouraged from driving and dancing   ● Medical knowledge is socially constructed and can reflect inequalities in class, gender, race, + ethnicity     19.2 - Global Health  ● Social Epidemiology: ​The study of the causes and distribution of diseases  ● Heart disease, diabetes, depression, + obesity are more common in high-income nations   Health in High-Income Nations  ● Obesity is linked to heart problems, skeletal atrophy, diabetes, + respiratory issues  ● Several factors contribute to the rise of obesity  ○ 1) Improvement in tech + reduced family size led to reduction of work to be done in household production   ○ 2) Unhealthy market goods, included processed foods, sugary drinks, + fatty snacks are replacing home-produced goods  ○ 3) Leisure activities are getting more sedentary, like computer games and tv viewing   ○ 4) More workers are shifting from active work to service industries   ○ 5) Increased access to passive transportation has led to more driving + less walking   ● Higher rates of depression are related to higher income inequality   Health in Low Income Nations  ● Low income nations are less concerned with health care than with their inadequate resources. They have higher infant mortality rates and shorter lifespans   ● Some (though not all) racial disparity in sickness, life expectancy, and medical care access can be attributed to social class differentials   ● We know that poor children and adults fare much worse on various health and well-being indicators   ● We know that they access medical care less often, are less likely to have coverage, or quality of coverage is less  ● Stats  ○ 1) Average infant mortality rate is 60/1,000 births. Low income nations have 117/1,000 births. High income countries have 7/1,000 births  ○ 2) Frequent cause of child’s death was pneumonia + diarrheal disease
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