health, illness, disability as social constructs

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  • Created by: rmahmood
  • Created on: 20-04-13 15:06

Social Constructs

Social Construct:

 a concept that is created by society which is relative and subjective. It is not a universally agreed concept and differs over time, within societies and between societies.

Health, Illness and Disability are all seen to be social constructs,

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  • This is a social construct due to the fact health differs between societies.
  • In Africa, there are fattening houses whereby women are succumbed to these houses in order to get fat as it is a sign of prosperity and fertility. These are essential in picking a wife.
  • In Britain, we medicalise a lot of these terms which are seen as natural as Oakley said that pregnancy is medicalised,as is the defnition fat. It is now seen as obesity
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Shawalter said that in the 1900's if women spoke out of turn or got too big for their boots they were medicalised as being hysteric. They forced this label and stigmatised women who stood up for themselves as someone with a mental disorder. of course now this is not the case, due to the rising number of feminists.

This thus proves that illness is a social construct as it differed over time

This is also evident when in 1969 approx. homosexuality was put up with the likes of paedophilia and now it is accepted due to secularisation in society. Thus proving that illness is again differing over time

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This is seen as a social construct. Tom Shakespeare said people are not disabled because of their impairment but due to society disabling those vulnerable. Society does this in two ways:

MASTER STATUS                                and                                   SOCIAL BARRIERS

1.) Master Status: This is when society doesnt see the disabled as a person but sees their disability above everything else. this could include instances where you may see a disabled person and just look at the person pushing the wheelchair when asking them for the time and not the disabled person even though they may be the one with a watch on

2.) Social Barriers: These are items in society which prevent the disabled peoples participation when they dont have ramps or lifts to get around in a building or when the light switch is too high. or a car is parked too much on a pavement thereby restricting a disabled person from accessing or going past

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Medical Model would disagree with this and say health, illness and disability is not a social construct.

Health, illness and disability could be explanined by the med mod.

It is a breakdown of the body and the disease is physical.

Doctors are an elite.

Illnesses are curative.

Illness is temporary.

Nikki Hart identified these as the main features

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Depends on who is doing the social constructing and who it benefits, for exmaple a marxist would say that it is a social construct as workers may only be ill when its holidays and doctors may not define them as ill as they act as a gatekeeper to medicine, meaning that it depends who it benefits when people are ill. During work period, bourgeoisie wont want the workers to be ill.

Depends on the viewpoint.


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