Health, Illness and Disability

Focuses on the main areas of Health, Illness and Disability.

The Medical and Social Model in terms of Health and Illness, and Disability

The Sociology of the Body - Eating disorders and the Feminist perspective

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  • Created by: Geraldine
  • Created on: 29-12-12 11:58

The Medical Model - Health and Illness

  • Ill-health comes from biological or physical causes.
  • The human body is seen as a machine - It needs reparing (through medication)
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The Social Model - Health and Illness

  • Looks towards social causes of health and illness.
  • Social causes include poverty, unemployment, living conditions etc.
  • Differences between social class, ethnicity, gender and age are also looked at.
  • Critical of doctors - They have too much power determining someone as ill
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The Medical Model - Disability

  • Disabilities are problems that need to be helped.
  • They need to adapt to society, rather than society adapting to them.
  • Share the view that people with disabilities are dependent, which justifies their exclusion.
  • Medical diagnosis of disability is used to control access to welfare etc.
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The Social Model - Disability

  • Disability is caused by barriers in society - they discriminate against those with disabilities.
  • Tom Shakespeare (1998) - Disability should be seen as a social construct. Disability is created by society which does not take into account the needs of those who do not fit into a 'normal' society.
  • Tom Shakespeare (1998) - People have disabilites only if soceity treats them like second-class citizens, which makes it harder for them to function. Disability only exists because of prejudice and discrimination.
  • This model is changing the way society sees disability - Disability Discrimination Act 2004.
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The Sociology of the Body

  • A new area in Sociology.
  • Focuses on how our bodies are influenced by social attitudes and pressures.
  • Society has become more concerned about having a healthy body.
  • Plastic surgery is more avaiable and affordable.
  • Debates about reproduction, euthanasia and abortion are all to do with the body.
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Eating Disorders - The Sociology of the Body

Social/Cultural causes

  • Focuses on the role of the mass media projecting thin women, which women try to copy. Naomi Wolf calls this the 'beauty myth'

Psychological/Emotional causes

  • Reasearch has linked personality traits to eating disorders - obsessiveness, low self-esteem
  • Other links to tramatic life experiences, physical or sexual abuse etc.
  • Bennet, Sharp, Freeman et al. (2004) - Not just a western problem. Screened female secondary school students in India. 10 had low weight due to self-starvation.

Biological causes

  • Some studies suggest that eating disorders are genetically determined.
  • Some look at the role of seretonin.
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Feminist Perspectives on the Body

  • Naomi Wolf is a radical feminist who argues that women have become more successful, therefore the 'beauty myth' is used to put them back in their place.
  • Women see images of the 'perfect' woman. Society judges women and they judge themselves.
  • The portrayal of women is a deception.
  • The beauty myth is responsible for obsessive dieting and eading disorders which result.
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