20 | Health: Part 1

Although Health may not be the most popular option on the A-level Sociology Spec. (and is probably next in line for the chop when they finally reduce the syllabus to the barest of bare bones) it’s surprisingly interesting – something I discovered when researching this chapter because, like the majority of Sociology teachers, it’s not a topic I’ve ever taught.

Be that as it may – and be assured that it is – this chapter looks at the social construction of health and illness beginning, as is by now traditional with these OCR chapters, with a few Key Concepts to settle the nerves and get the creative juices flowing. Or not, as the case may be.

Anyway, the first part of the chapter looks at:

• Defining health (both positive and negative state models)
• Defining illness and sickness (including an outline of the Sick Role)
• Approaches to health and illness through two opposing models (biomedical and social) in terms of their basic assumptions, relationships, strengths and weaknesses.
• The distinction between rates of morbidity and mortality

The second part of the chapter looks specifically at the social construction of heath in terms of how different societies develop different ideas about concepts like health and illness. The focus here is on three broad areas:

• Cultural relativity
• Lay definitions
• The social process of becoming ill

Overall the chapter has a few nice graphics (don’t thank me, all part of the service), some crazy mnemonics (I like mnemonics, okay) and one (count it) picture. Clearly the already “limited” (for which read “non-existent”) budget for pictures had finally run out by the time we got to this final chapter. As per, there are a few printer’s marks visible but what do you expect for absolutely nothing?

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