Thinking Sociologically-a sociological perspective to health and illness.

Essay by shariseUniversity, Ph.D.A+, April 2004

download word file, 3 pages 4.3

A sociological perspective to health and illness enables health problems to be viewed as social issues. This essay will describe the "sociological imagination" (Mills 1959 cited in Germov, 21) and outline the interrelated historical, cultural, structural and critical factors of which it is comprised. The journal articles, "Researching Aboriginal health: experience from a study of urban young people' s health and well being" (Holmes, Stewart, Garrow, Anderson and Thorpe, 2002) and "Indigenous women' s perceptions of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in Queensland" (McMichael, Kirk, Manderson, Hoban and Potts, 2000), are both discussed as excellent examples of what a sociological perspective has to offer with respect to Indigenous health issues.

The "sociological imagination" asserts that people do not exist in isolation but within a larger social network. The social mind examines the relationships and patterns of behaviour that shape our society (Willis, 1993) and the distribution of health within it.

This facilitates a connection to be made between "private troubles" and "public issues" (Mills 1959 cited in Germov, 21) and further enables health problems to be viewed as social issues (Germov, 2002).

Evan Willis (1999 as cited in Germov, 22) suggests that understanding the interrelated cultural, historical, structural and critical factors is the key to the sociological pursuit. A historical and cultural awareness involves examining how the past and culture have impacted upon a current health situation. Considering the structural factors entails understanding how the organisation and institutions of society and health influence peoples lives. Finally, the social mind will apply a critical awareness to determine what can be done to improve the current situation (Germov, 2002).

The Holmes et al. (2002) quantitative study aims to examine the high prevalence of health problems for Indigenous youth and the responsible social determinants. The study is a pertinent example of the application...