Sample essay: Regional and class inequalities in health

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It is clear from the research data that working class people generally die younger and suffer more illness than middle class people.   In fact from 1997-1999 there were 175 more deaths from heart disease and lung cancer of unskilled workers than professional middle class people. There is also evidence of many regional inequalities of health, which shows a very clear north-south divide for life expectancy in the UK because more working class people live in the north than the south. In fact people in Liverpool have a 60% higher chance of cancer than those in south England.

The Culturalist explanation is a ‘victim blaming’ theory which has a reductionist view of class health inequalities. It blames the individual (particularly working class individuals) for making the ‘wrong’ cultural choices which leads to their bad health. Steve Field says that we are shortening our lives by being irresponsible and people need to try harder. An example of the choices made is, that working class people tend to eat less fruits and vegetables, more white bread and ready meals than middle class people. They also say working class people exercise less than the middle class (for example the middle class are much more likely to have a gym membership and play sports such as tennis and golf) Culturalist also say that working class people are more likely to take up smoking and drink more alcohol (especially drinks such as lager) than middle class people and that middle class smokers are much more likely to quit than working class smokers. 30% of the population smokes and the majority of these people come from a working class background.

The materialist explanation is critical of the Culturalist explanation because it believes the cultural choices made by working class are rational due to low income. This explanation blames poverty for the inequalities in health of social class as this can further lead to poor housing and diet etc.

Dobson studied shopping behaviours of middle and working class mothers and found that working class mothers are much more likely to be experimental and buy foods with a more open mind because they can afford the cost of possibly wasting it. Working class mothers found themselves much more restricted and bought foods they knew their children would eat, which were often unhealthy (e.g. biscuits, crisps). Dobson also noted how fast food companies often target poorer areas because they know working class people will be attracted to the low prices

The national food alliance believes there are some areas called ‘food deserts’ with no large supermarkets which provide nutritional foods. People in these areas have to rely on corner shops especially if


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