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Sociological approach to health and disease

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Sociological approach to health and disease

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Sociological perspective, Sociological imagination , Establishing patterns, Social classes, Globalization, Structural Functionalism, Symbolic interaction ism, Conflict theory

Sociological perspective, Sociological imagination , Establishing patterns, Social classes, Globalization, Structural Functionalism, Symbolic interaction ism, Conflict theory

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Sociological approach to health and disease

  1. 1. SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACH TO HEALTH AND DISEASE THEORIES. By C. Settley
  2. 2. What is the sociological perspective? (Pretorius, 2) • The sociological perspective is a perspective on human behavior and its connection to society as a whole. It invites us to look for the connections between the behavior of individual people and the structures of the society in which they live. Typically, we tend to think of our society as just natural.
  3. 3. What is the sociological perspective? (Pretorius, 2) • Sociology is a tool towards understanding the world. • And to confront its problems. • This means that the methods and theories of sociology enable us to collect data for example about how many people are there in a particular society, how the population is distributed in terms of age and what the main health concerns are. • Such information enables the authorities to plan for appropriate healthcare provision.
  4. 4. What is the sociological perspective? (Pretorius, 2) • Direct • Indirect
  5. 5. • Now, we have said that: Sociology can be defined as the study of human social life. • Think about the following questions: 1)How has society shaped you? 2)What institutions have formed you? 3)How have these institutions formed who you are? What is the sociological perspective? (Pretorius, 2)
  6. 6. • An important statement to think about is: ‘We are the products of our environment’. - Our environment influence the way we think and how we act. What is the sociological perspective? (Pretorius, 2)
  7. 7. • The sociological imagination allows us to objectively look at our own personal issues and social surroundings and relate them to the way society works. • Although we have personal issues that we feel affect only us many of our personal issues are felt by others and are caused by public issues within society.
  8. 8. • For example, people may see unemployment as a personal weakness, however when a sociologist looks from an individual to a society we can see that many people are suffering from unemployment by looking at the high unemployment rate. • Since so many people are affected by the unemployment rate we can look at it as a social problem and not a personal problem.
  9. 9. • Throughout class, you will develop your own sociological imagination which will allow you to objectively view problems that you once though we personal. • You will start to gain an understanding of how to objectively view society and the social processes that shape who you are.
  10. 10. Establishing patterns • The sociological perspective aims to do more than describe events in society. • Hence sociologists attempt to establish generalisations
  11. 11. Example: Different occupations • Instead of classifying these occupations, sociologists have come to realise that one can identify groups of people who do more or les the same kind of work for which they are paid more or less similarly….(Social class!)
  12. 12. Example continued • See stores below: • Casual employees • Fruit ails employees • Dry foods employees • Wine section employees • Furniture employees • Appliances employees • Floor Managers employees • Store managers employees
  13. 13. Establishing patterns continued • Sociologists interested in health and illness could investigate the incidence and prevalence of illnesses among different classes • They would then further be able to make generalisations about the relationship between health and society, such as the rate of death rate of people from the working class is consistently higher than that of people from the professional class, e.g. doctors, lawyers and business people.
  14. 14. Social classes GENERAL: Broad Schematic Representation of the Social Class 6 Basic Classes with subclasses Varies according to societal dynamics
  15. 15. • This means that sociologists will be able to identify certain patterns pertaining to health in a particular society. • They will be able to explain why these patterns exist and; • What their consequences are for the society. • They can also make recommendations on the patterns. • Ever notice the order on campus/in town/malls/roads? • Regularities of social life. Establishing patterns continued
  16. 16. • Sociology differs from common sense explanations. • They study the routines of daily life, but look at them differently. • They understand the larger picture and impact of the social forces on our private lives. • Referring to Refiloe’s story…… • While we think life is all about individual actions and free choices, many are influence by social circumstances that we cannot always control. • The story illustrate the key idea of sociology- to understand people and the phenomena in their personal lives • Sociological imagination allows us to recognize that solutions to many of our problems le not in changing the personal situations and characteristics of individuals, but in changing the social institutions and roles available to them • Problems such as drug addiction, homelessness, sexual violence will not be solve by treating or punishing the individuals, • But social institutions should provide programs to assist such individuals. The sociological Imagination
  17. 17. • While we think that life is all about individual actions and free choices- such as what to wear, what to eat, who our friends are etc- many of these free choices are dictated or at least influenced by social circumstances that we cannot always control. • In Refiloe’s story we also have to look at current and past economic trends that affect the number of available jobs and at the country’s political past and the legacy of apartheid. The sociological Imagination
  18. 18. • Globalisation significantly impacts all our lives. • Globalisation= when peoples lives become interconnected and interdependent in many spheres of life- economically, politically, environmentally and culturally. • “if US sneezes, the rest of us catch the cold” The sociological Imagination
  19. 19. Globalisation: Advantages • Resources of different countries are used for producing goods and services they are able to do most efficiently. • Consumers to get much wider variety of products to choose from. • Consumers get the product they want at more competitive prices. • Companies are able to procure input goods and services required at most competitive prices. • Companies get access to much wider markets • It promotes understanding and goodwill among different countries. • Businesses and investors get much wider opportunities for investment. • Adverse impact of fluctuations in agricultural productions in one area can be reduced by pooling of production of different areas.
  20. 20. Globalisation: Disadvantages • Developed countries can stifle development of undeveloped and under-developed countries. • Economic depression in one country can trigger adverse reaction across the globe. • It can increase spread of communicable diseases. • Companies face much greater competition. This can put smaller companies, at a disadvantage as they do not have resources to compete at global scale.
  21. 21. The sociological imagination • The sociological imagination thus allows us to recognise that the solutions to many of our most serious problems lie not in changing the personal situations and characteristics of an individual, but in changing the social institutions and roles available to them.
  22. 22. The sociological theory • Theories are considered practical and useful because they: • - enable a better understanding of human social behavior • - allow us to make predictions about future behavior and events • - assist us in making suggestions for interventions or change • What is a theory? • - comprises a set of interrelated concepts, definitions and propositions • - presents a systemic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables • - aims to explain and predict these phenomena • VIDEO ON SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES!
  23. 23. Structural Functionalism • The oldest theoretical perspective in sociology and other social sciences • Inspiration primarily from the ideas of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). • One of the first sociologists who made use of scientific and statistical techniques in sociological research • Structural functionalism is structural theory (macro theory) • The perspective is based on two pillars: • 1) The application of the scientific method to the objective social world • 2) The analogy of society as an organism
  24. 24. Structural Functionalism: 1) The scientific method • During the middle ages, people based their knowledge on religious beliefs • Intellectual Movement, termed the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of reason • These thinkers believed that superstition and religious tyranny had been the cause of suffering and death to millions in religious wars and wanted to free humankind from these • Positivism: the theory that knowledge can be acquired only through direct observation and experimentation was termed positivism. • Mainly applied to natural and human sciences • August Comte developed the first sociological version of positivism. • He developed his positive philosophy during the time that natural sciences were achieving success- he was impressed and influenced by this
  25. 25. Structural Functionalism: 1) The scientific method continued • He argued that to make sense of society, sociology had to adopt the methods of natural sciences, especially biology • Social analysis had to be based on careful observation, which had to be directed by and also interpreted by a theory.
  26. 26. Structural Functionalism 1) The scientific method continued • Comte’s sociological positivism comprised the following aspects: • Establishing sociology as an objective science. • Recognition that there is no difference between the methods of the natural sciences and the social sciences. • The field of study of sociology, namely society, was defined in terms of an organism evolving by means of the workings of specific natural laws.
  27. 27. Structural Functionalism 2) Society as an organism • 2.1. A Systems approach • Society is a system that operates like a living organism (the body) and consists of interrelated and interdependent parts or subsystems such as families, education, religions, politics and economy (organs) • Each subsystem functions to maintain a healthy society • So, the subsystem of the family is dependent upon the subsystem of education to prepare the children for jobs in order to support their own families • Society work together to produce order, stability, productivity
  28. 28. Structural Functionalism 2) Society as an organism • 2.2. A tendency towards equilibrium • By means of socialization • Values and norms are being internalized by members of the society • Values and norms become part of their nature • Act according to the rules and expectations of the particular society • Aim of socialization is to reach consensus/cohesion. ‘the glues that holds the society together’ • When Social change occurs rapidly, society becomes unsure of the social norms. Durkheim called this anomie (this means being in a state of normlessness. • Societies have various social control mechanisms- informal and formal sanctions
  29. 29. Structural Functionalism 2) Society as an organism • Emile Durkheim sought to explain social cohesion and stability through the concept solidarity. It takes one of two forms: • 1) Mechanical solidarity • When people in a society maintain similar values and beliefs, share common symbols and types of work. Traditional societies • 2) Organic solidarity • Develops when the members of society hold varying values and beliefs. Industrialized societies (In sociology, industrial society refers to a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour).
  30. 30. Structural Functionalism 2) Society as an organism • 2.3. Statuses and Roles • Statuses are socially defined positions that individuals occupy within society: wife, nurse, cook, student, etc. Not associated with prestige or rank • Difference between a person and a status- they are not the same • Expectations of roles • Ascribed status- sex or race • Achieved status- educational level
  31. 31. Structural Functionalism 2) Society as an organism • 2.4. Functions • Robert Merton divides human functions into two types: • 1) Manifest functions- intentional, planned and obvious • 2) Latent functions- unintended , not obvious and unrecognized
  32. 32. Structural Functionalism 2) Society as an organism • 2.4. Social structure and the individual • Focus on social structures rather than the individual • Durkheim study on suicide. Catholics and Protestants.
  33. 33. Structural Functionalism 2) Evaluation • Strengths of Structural Functionalism: • 1) There is a general consensus about the values and norms of society by the majority e.g. wealth is good, murder is bad. They wish to keep the status quo. Individuals and groups have to accept their roles in society. • 2) Society is made up of integrated parts that are tied together, thus if something is wrong with one it will effect the others. (It functions like the organs of our body). These parts in society are the institutions of our society e.g. family, school, economy, justice system, etc. • 3) Society tends to seek stability and avoid conflict. Conflict is seen as dysfunctional. • 4) Macro level analysis
  34. 34. Structural Functionalism 2) Evaluation • Weaknesses of Structural Functionalism: • They do not see anything wrong with inequality in a society based on class, gender or race. • Is not open to social change • Does not look at the causes (root) of social problems • Less concerned with the ways in which individuals are able to control their own destiny. • Tend to over-emphasise the harmonious nature of society. • Supports the status quo.
  35. 35. Conflict theory • Conflict theory is a prominent sociological theory that is often contrasted with structural functionalism. It also tried to address the shortcoming of structural functionalism.
  36. 36. Conflict theory 1. Influence of Karl Marx •According to Marx, there are two major social groups, the ruling class and a subject class. •The ruling class possess the power because they own and control the forces of production. •Its members exploit and oppress the subject class. •As a result there is always conflict between the two classes
  37. 37. Conflict theory 2. View of Society • When conflict theorist look at society, they do not see a system striving for equilibrium, but rather a system characterised by inequality and a constant struggle and conflict over resources. • One of the basic assumptions of this theory is that competition rather than consensus is characteristics of human relationships. • Society is made up of individuals competing for limited resources, such as anti-retroviral medicine, money, leisure, etc.
  38. 38. Conflict theory 2. View of Society • These theorists note that unequal groups usually have conflicting values and agendas, causing them to compete against one another. • They challenge the status quo, stating that inequalities in power and rewards are built into all social structures. • Some people thus have more resources, such as power and influence. • Individuals and groups who benefits from any particular structure strive to see that structure maintained. • They use their power and influence to maintain their own position in society.
  39. 39. Conflict theory 3. Change in society • Change is an ever present reality in society, caused by conflict between competing interests rather than through adaptation. • The nature of change is abrupt and revolutionary rather than evolutionary. • Conflict theorist encourage social change, because they believe that rich and powerful people force social order on the poor and weak. • Whereas Marx focused on the struggle between classes, contemporary conflict theorists are interest in various sources of conflict and inequality, race, gender, religion, politics, etc.
  40. 40. Conflict theory 4. Evaluation • Strengths of Conflict theory: • Able to explain social change in society • Views society from the perspective of the underdog, the underprivileged.
  41. 41. Conflict theory 4. Evaluation • Weaknesses of Conflict theory: • Focus on conflict results in downplaying or overlooking the elements of society that different groups and individuals share. • It overlooks the stability of society. • It has an overly negative view of society. • It emphasizes on inequality has led some critics to argue that it is a perspective motivated by a particular political agenda. • In comparing and contrasting the two macro- level theories, it becomes apparent that they can be used complementarily, with structural functionalism focusing on equilibrium and solidarity, and conflict theorist focusing on change and conflict. • VIDEO ON CONFLICT THEORY!
  42. 42. Symbolic interactionism • Aims to understand the relationship between individuals and society, and is engage in analysis on a micro level. • It focus on the subjective aspects of social life, rather than objective, macro structural aspects of social life.
  43. 43. Symbolic interactionism 1. Human action and interaction • Interactionist based their theoretical perspective on their image of humans, rather than that of society. • In this approach, human are portrayed as acting as opposed to being acted upon. • Symbolic interactionism basic idea is that human action and interaction are understandable only through the exchange of meaningful communication or symbols.
  44. 44. Symbolic interactionism 1. Human action and interaction • Symbol is something used to represent or stand for something else. • Wedding- wedding bands, cake, church, etc. • People attached meaning to symbols, such as language, dress and gesture and then act according to their subjective interpretation of it. • Conversation is an interaction of symbols between individuals, words being the predominant ones. • The task of the symbolic interactionist is to consider the symbols and details of everyday life, and then to look for the meanings that individuals ascribe to their own actions and symbols and also to those of others.
  45. 45. Symbolic interactionism 2. Social construction of society • According to interactionism, we cannot understand society unless we understand the meanings that people attach to their actions and beliefs. • This is called the definition of the situation. • Society is socially constructed, meaning, it is defined by people’s interactions and develops from the numerous daily symbolic interactions between them. • This perspective maintains that the objective world has no reality for humans. • Only subjectively defined objects have meaning.
  46. 46. Symbolic interactionism 2. Social construction of society • Humans neither acquire meanings at birth, nor through familiarisation. • Meanings can however changed by human’s creative capabilities and individuals may influence the meanings that form their society. • Symbolic interactionism differs from structural functionalism: • Structural functionalism focus on stable norms and values. Interactionism emphasis more changeable, continually readjusting social processes. • Functionalist regard socialisation as the process that creates stability in the social system. Interactionist consider negotiation among members of society to create temporary, socially constructed relations that remain in constant flux.
  47. 47. Symbolic interactionism 3. Roles • The emphasis on symbols, the social construction of society and negotiated reality lead to an interest in the roles people play. • George Mead emphasised that role taking is the key mechanism of interaction. • It refers to people’s ability to read one another's gesture and to understand the identity that others are presenting in a situation. • Role taking permits us to take the other’s perspective, to see what our actions might mean to the other actors with whom we interact. • At other times, roles are improvised, this is referred to as role making which is the opposite of role taking. • It is a significant mechanism of interaction, because all situations and roles are essentially uncertain. • In all encounters individuals orchestrate their behavioural outputs and gestures to assert a role for themselves in the situation
  48. 48. Symbolic interactionism 4. Research methodology • Symbolic interactionist prefer and use a specific methodology in their research. • They see meaning as the fundamental component of human and society interaction. • Study this interaction requires getting at that meaning • They thus tend to utilise qualitative methods such as participant observation and focus group interviews, rather than quantitative measures such as surveys. • They argue that close contact and engagement in the every day lives of participants, are necessary for understanding the meaning of actions, definition of the situation itself and the process which actors construct the situation through interaction.
  49. 49. Symbolic interactionism 5. Evaluation • The value of this perspective is that in the final analysis society consist of people who interacts with one another • CRITISISM: • It neglects macro level of interpretation. • Their research methods have been called vague and unsystematic. • VIDEO ON SYMBOLIC THEORY!
  50. 50. Comparison of theoretical perspectives SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE KEY CONCEPTS MAIN ASSUMPTIONS Structural functionalism Manifest and latent functions Dysfunctions Social stability Social institutions are structured to maintain stability and order in society Conflict theory Power Inequality Conflict dominance The various institutions in society promote inequality and conflict among groups of people Symbolic interactionism Symbolic communication Social interaction Subjective meaning Society is structured and maintained through everyday interactions and people’s subjective definitions of their worlds
  51. 51. Applying the theoretical perspectives • All 3 theories have positive and negative characteristics. • Meaning that one or more perspective has to be used at times to understand a particular phenomenon. • Read page 22 in Pretoruis et al. • Sociological approaches are differentiated by the level of analysis. Macrosociology involves the study of widespread social processes . Microsociology involves the study of people at a more interpersonal level, as in face-to-face interactions.
  52. 52. REFERENCES. Du Toit, D. & le Roux, E. (2014). Nursing sociology. 5th ed. Pretoria: Van Schaik. Pretorius, E. Matebesi, Z and Ackermann, L. (2013). Juta’s Sociology for healthcare professionals. Lansdowne, Cape Town, South Africa. Page 9- 24. http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/list-advantages-disadvantages-globalization-113517 . Retrieved 07/07/2015

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