Explain how sociological and lay ideas about illness differ from those of biomedicine.
Health is a giant wheel subject with several aspects and it is nearly impossible to explain wellness and health without considering the aspects of illness. And just as health is multi-faceted, illness, too, is studied in different perspectives. And that includes sociological, lay and biomedical concepts.
Sociological Perspectives of Illness:
In sociological terms, a functioning society is based on the well-being and health of the people and the control of illness. This is where the finding of sociologist Talcott Parsons comes relevant. He introduced the term “the sick role”, which dealt with the social behaviour of, and the behavior toward those whom
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Shakespeare et al., August 2000): • Health in a vacuum • Reserve of health • Equilibrium And in lay perspective, 6 categories of health definitions have been identified, including age, gender and class distinctions in ideas of health (Blaxter, n.d.). Health is defined: • As not being ill • As a functional capacity • As physical fitness • As leading a healthy life • As a psychological concept • As a reserve Those who do not reach upto this criteria might as well qualify as ill, in the simple process of lay concepts. This is closer to the sociological perspectives rather than that of biomedicine, since in lay concepts, people explain their bodies and matters of health and illness in unscientific and inaccurate language, which can be rectified only by awareness, as in community or social awareness of disease conditions. In lay perspective, ideas of illness include more than just the immediate cause of a condition, unlike the ideas in biomedicine. Apart from gauging the severity of the disease and the appropriate treatment, lay conceptualization about the meaning of illness is also important. When people fall ill, they need to find an answer to the "why" of the illness as well as to the "how" of the illness (Trollope-Kumar et al. 2002). Lay concepts of illness are classified according to their origin, mainly to cite, as from within the individual,