Essay on Health and Social Class

2262 Words Oct 18th, 2012 10 Pages
The aim of this essay is to examine the influence that socio-economic status has on an individual’s health.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1948.)

Social Stratification is a term used by sociologists to describe inequalities that exist between society and us as individuals and can also be described as a hierarchy with the less privileged people at the bottom and the more favoured people at the top. (Giddens, 2006)

Anthony Giddens (2006) defines class as “a large-scale group of people who share common economic resources, which strongly influence the type of lifestyle they are able to lead.” (pg 300). Karl Marx, a sociologist in the 19th
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this indicates that people are in lower social classes because of the health rather than their class causing them poor health (Kirby et al 2000) although this only partially explains the link between health and social class. (Class notes 19.06.12). Equally there are arguments to say that good health improves your socio-economic status whereas poor health will disadvantage it (Stern, 1983 cited in Moore & Porter 1998).

The Cultural/Behavioural Explanation
This explanation believes that poor health is caused by behaviours specifically chosen by people and their lifestyles. It is believe that the middle class people tend to embrace on health enhancing behaviours like attending the gym, yoga classes, healthier eating like organic meals or food that are low in fat whilst the working class people value health detracting behaviours such as smoking, excess amounts of alcohol and unhealthy dietary choices and these activities are seen as detrimental to a person’s health ( O’Donnell 2005). The obvious one being that smoking can lead to heart disease and various forms of cancer whilst eating fatty foods can lead to heart disease or obesity. Although it is evident that these behaviours are amongst working class people (Sheaff 2005) argues that these behaviours need to be understood as a coping mechanisms of the struggles of everyday life and these people may see this behaviour as their only enjoyment or pleasures they

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