Discuss whether you think a person with any of the things named or doing any of the things named could be seen as ill or not.
An essential starting point as far as functionalism is concerned is the work of Parsons.
Parsons argued that people who are or who become sick have certain rights and obligations. He argued being sick was to be deviant and that what society needs to be fully functioning is a healthy population. He argued that society needed regulations and people, doctors, who could exercise some control over those who become sick in order to prevent people from withdrawing from their social roles.
He argued that the rights and obligations people have are inextricably linked.
Parsons argued that a person who is sick has two rights:
Once a person becomes ill they also have obligations
Parsons argued that unless the person who is sick agrees to do the above their sickness may not be taken seriously, it may not be legitimated.
Marxist theory – analyse the video below
Like functionalism Marxism is also a structural explanation of society.
Marxists argue that the NHS, free at the point of access, is good for all members of society both those who are ill and employers who need a healthy workforce.
Marxists focus on a number of aspects of health
Harry Leslie Smith born in 1923
Some Marxists argue, as Harry Smith does, that the NHS was a victory for the working class. For the first time they could go to the doctors without worrying about how to pay for a visit to the GP or for paying for treatment. It would eradicate health inequalities.
Interactionists are interested in the way that individuals shape society. They are interested in the meanings that people attach to their actions and to the actions of others. As far as health and disability is concerned this means they are interested in the ways in which doctors and patients interact. In terms of this interaction they are interested in the ways in which doctors attempt to impose their views onto patients and conversely the ways in which patients might at times resist the diagnosis and advice they are being given. They are also interested in ways in which patients try to get doctors to listen to them.
Most of the research by interactionists in the field of health and disability has been small scale qualitative research much of which has been focussed on the doctor patient relationship.
A key aspect of interactionism is labelling.
Labelling may occur when a patient is diagnosed or it may be by friends and family. Although people may attempt to resist the label it is often difficult particularly when an illness is stigmatised. Link to the work of Goffman.
Look up the work of Rosenhan et al regarding the difficulty of resisting labelling once admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Also watch 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest'.
Patients admitted to general wards who try to resist the hospital regime may also find themselves labelled as ‘non-compliant’.
Using the following references, understand their views on health and illness and then answer the question
Go to the sample assessment materials to look at the generic mark scheme first. Consider what you need to do to access the top mark bands.
Once you have written the essay high-light the evaluative words you have used, then underline relevant sociologists and concepts you have used.Visit Website
Postmodernists argue it is not possible to explain health and disability with metatheories such as functionalism or Marxism.
They argue that the bio-medical model of health cannot explain all causes of ill health and disability. Foucault for example said there is no objective reality or truth.
Postmodernists argue that complementary medicines can legitimately exist alongside the bio-medical model. Two or more explanations which compete. They argue that doctors generally support the bio-medical view of health and illness but this can be challenged by alternative treatments and also by patients who may have more knowledge about their condition than some doctors for example people with ME.