There are many sociological approaches that explain health and ill health. In this assignment I will be focusing on Marxism, feminism, interactionaist and functionalism perspectives. The Marxist perspective believe that the bourgeoisie (middle class) exploit the proletariat (working class) as we live in a capitalist system and that if we lived in an communist society that would be our ideal society because there would be equality between everyone. In health and social care setting doctors and surgeons are the bourgeoisie who exploit the proletariat who are patients. In England patients are exploited by having to pay for prescriptions whereas Scotland and Ireland do not have to pay for their prescriptions. The prices for medication is also another way the bourgeoisie exploit the proletariat as they set high prices for their products which enables them to make a large profit because there will always be a demand for medication and people need them to restore their health so they will buy the product no matter how much it costs as it is such a necessity.
Furthermore private health care only benefits the bourgeoisie as they are the only ones who can afford it, this gives them better access to health care for example if they need to seek emergency medical help they wouldn’t have to wait for a long time whereas the proletariat would have to normally wait a few hours before being seen by anyone at a normal emergency medical centre. Additionally each hospital spends a different amount of money on food for the patients at the hospital. Some hospitals spend very little money and others spend a large amount of money on the food for the patients for example one hospital could spend £3.50 whereas on hospital could spend £30. Food is a major factor to getting rid of an illness, as the nutrients in the food they consume help them to build up their full strength so in order to get better they need good nutrients which can only be provided by good quality food but not all hospitals spend a lot of money on food so they don’t buy good quality food. This is also another way in which the bourgeoisie exploit the proletariat because mostly only the private hospitals which accommodate to the bourgeoisie provide good quality food.
Feminists analyse the status in society between men and women with the purpose to better women’s lives. Feminists state that it is more likely for women to become ill more often due to the triple shift (emotional, paid employment and domestic work) which can cause them to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. One problem that might occur from this is that they could suffer from a skin disorder due to the stress; this can cause them to have a low esteem. The stress from the triple shift may lead to women taking large amounts of alcohol to cope with it. Some women may drink a few glasses of wine every night; this can lead to many problems such as addiction, liver damage and poisoning. Others could deal with the stress by over eating as a way of escaping their problems which then leads to multiple health problems like; obesity, heart conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and breathing problems. Liberal feminists focus on the inequalities between men and women in the health care professions.
They point out the lack of power women have in their health care professions. Marxists feminists say that healthcare ensures that capitalist societies have a healthy work force which therefore works to prolong capitalism. They also believe that healthcare helps with the reproduction of the next generation of workers through maternal care they provide with the workforce. Functionalists believe that there is a value consensus within society which is when everyone has an agreement of norms and values. Functionalists argue that a free healthcare system would eliminate the pressure of funding healthcare for the family, leaving it to focus on its key functions of primary socialisation and stabilisation of adult personality. They also believe each institution has a positive impact for society and its individual members then their healthcare system must be positive. Parsons argue that all social actions can be understood if they have helped society to function effectively or not. The sick role disturbs society in the same way as crime does therefore illness can be seen as deviant.
Biomedical model for health and illness states five features. Firstly they sate the disease is physical it concentrates on physical symptoms and not social and environmental factors however biomedical do not believe in mental illness ,depression and stress as they only look at physical signs of illness. Only medical professionals can treat the patient, this would be a problem to the mind causing the physical illness and the sufferer only being treated for the physical symptoms. Furthermore the body can be repaired with drugs and surgery but not all medicine is needed to cure the body, also other factors that can help to recover from an illness e.g. eating disorders which is not cured by medicine but is a mental recovery and accepting and talking about the problem.
Also illness is temporary and illness can be cured by the elite however illness like cancer may not be temporary and the drugs used may not help which means the cancer patient will have to leave their job depending on how long they have cancer. Lastly biomedical state that treatment is special and when treatments takes place it is different from the environment where the patient got ill however sometimes people get ill in the hospital when visiting because of the environment however weakness of biomedical model are reductionist because disease is reduced to biological causes without look at social and psychological factors, moreover it underestimates the link between social structure and diseases.
However the social model states that it is someone choice whether they see themselves as ill or not. But it doesn’t look at how society would look if someone took the day off for a sore throat because they could still function at work so people do not have a choice to be off. This also links to health and disease is a social construction which is where people are segregated on different factors such as race, ethnicity and gender. Also the social model states that a whole group of people will get ill and not the individual because they are more at risk as there are patterns of social class and ethnic inequalities in health. However the social model has been stated that it ignores the material factors that may affect a person’s mental health such as poverty.