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Health and Social Care

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Functionalism
The functionalist perspective is a very important perspective as it focuses on describing each part of society and how they all add to the overall society. The different parts all depend on one another and include the government, which provides children with the education they need, this will then lead on to them being more likely to get a higher paid job which means that there are more taxes paid which helps to keep the government running. With this system, society will be stable and promote productivity but if it does not go to plan, parts of the system will fail and have to find new order and stability. Functionalism highlights the order that exists in society and focuses on social stability and public values. Some functionalists focus on the function of human behaviours, one of these sociologists is Robert Merton who categorised human functions into two sections; ‘manifest functions’ which included the actions that were obvious and intentional such as attending a church to worship as part of a religion and ‘latent functions’ which are actions that are neither intentional or obvious such as when going to the church to worship they are unintentionally going to also separate their personal values from their uniform, work or religious values. Functionalism doesn’t encourage people to be an active role or go about changing their social environment, even if these changes could be useful and good for them.
By using the basics to the functionalist perspective, Talcott Parsons( ) came up with the idea that in order for society to function without error, each individual within society must be healthy. When someone becomes ill they have a new role to fill which includes being excused from going to work or school or going to family events as well as the need to be cared for by someone else. Talcott Parsons believed that when one person in the family unit is ill, they are dependent on the other members and they must try to get better as soon as they can in order to get back to doing their job in society, this includes allowing the doctors and other medical professionals to help them get better. This perspective believes that being ill leads of consequences as if the individual wasn’t ill they would be at work or in education but being ill means they are not working and others must take their time to care for the ill person.

Marxism
This perspective is wholly centred around Karl Marx's (1863) concern with how individuals behaviour can shape society. He thought that there were two classes which were the capitalists who were a small but powerful group who owned factories and other places that employed people and the proletariat who were a much larger but poorer group of people who did the work in the factories. Marxism is often called the 'conflict model' as the two groups in question would often have conflicts as the workers always wanted higher wages but the employers always wanted more profits. People who believe in the Marxism perspective, Marxists, say that the employing, or ruling, class hold the power and shape society as they control the media system and it is their ideas that have a big impact on what is taught in schools. Marxists, like functionalists, believe that the family is what contributes to a stable society and say that it prepares children for the discipline and routine of work as children have the lowest power in the family, they will have the lowest power when they go to work as they will be told what to do by their managers and bosses. The family is also seen to provide a home where people can go to get rested and prepare for their return to work the next day in order to make bigger profits for their boss. Marxists also believe that children born within the nuclear family have every right to the family's inheritance of wealth.
Marxist Sociologists believes that the services provided for ill health are for the higher classes of richer people rather than the poorer lower class people. For Marxists, doctors and nurses are seen as people who do all they can in order to help an individual to get better as soon as possible so that they can return to work sooner and because of this, they believe that doctors work to the interests of employers rather than the ill employee. Marxists see the job doctors do as a way of ensuring the employers workforce are healthy and able to work to their best but disagree with the fact that the government allows profits to be made from companies selling items that can cause individuals to become ill such as junk food and cigarettes. Marxists, unlike functionalists, believe that different types and severity of illnesses are related to what social class you are in, such as in lower classes there is a lot of poverty and therefore more illnesses arise from this problem. As there is less employment for the lower class they have less money to pay for items that may help them to stay healthy such as foods rich in vitamins or cannot pay for medicines when they do get ill. Marxists believe that the government do nothing to prevent or help with this issue, and many others that cause illness in individuals because it costs money which is why the higher class, richer people have more access to the services that help them to get better quicker such as private health care.

Feminism
There are 3 main types of feminism and they include Marxist feminism where the feminists see women as helpless or exploited to men, especially those in the working class. They believe that men think women are just there to produce children to give the employers their next load of employees and that it is the women who must care for the children so that they know how to properly work in places such as factories or offices in the future. Marxist feminists say that men believe women are meant to keep the house clean, care for the children, give support to their husbands and cook the meals for the household, all without earning any money. This means that they are dominated over by the men and that the women have the main responsibility of the domestic chores and lead a very domestic life as if they didn't do these jobs then they wouldn't get done at all. Radical feminism opposes the idea that the oldest man in the family is in charge of the entire family and that the family line goes through the men in the family and not the women. They believe that the socialisation of women who are wives or mothers is good and should be encouraged in order to prevent the oppression of the women in the family. Liberal feminists believe that changes to stop male dominance have in fact occurred over the years and they think that changes to legislation and the introduction of new laws such as the Equal Pay Act of 1970 as well as the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 have improved the lives of many females and that these improvements will continue to be made.
Feminists believe that even in medical professions there is male dominance as the majority of consultants and doctors are male and this is a concern for feminists, especially concerning pregnancy as some women wouldn't like to have a man help her have her child as she may feel embarrassed whereas if it were a female nurse/doctor then she would most probably feel more comfortable. Feminists have noticed that the new male contraceptive pill isn't given much priority and has noticeably less side effects than the female pill. As more females suffer from illnesses such as depression and mental health, feminists see this as a result from their exploited role in the family as well as society. Feminists, especially Marxist feminists, are concerned with women's health in relation to the inequality of men and women in society. One feminist went as far as writing a book about what they think causes women to get ill and this highlights the fact that many women have full time jobs and are still expected to care for the children, cook meals and clean the house when they come home. Feminists believe that the domestic jobs should be shared between both husband and wife to promote equality in every aspect.

Interactionism
Interactionism focuses on what happens within the individuals everyday life. Interactionist sociologists study how each individual sees and uses symbols to communicate, create images of themselves and show what they experience from a certain social situation. This perspective looks at how social life is made up of numerous interactions with various people and situations throughout life which gives the individuals life shape and meaning. Interactionists believe that every individuals behaviour is a reflection of the way we see various situations, how they see themselves in comparison to other people within a small group such as close friends or family and how others within that same group see the individual.
Interactionism is the perspective that gives the most reasonable approach and most attention to ill health as it is interested in what causes a person to think/define themselves as ill as others may not think the same way, such as an individual having a more serious illness but not define themselves as ill whereas another person may just have a cold and call themselves ill. Interactionists also look at the way the patient and health professional talk with each other and come to agree how ill the patient is in order to determine the best way to get them better quickly. They also consider how much it would impact an individual if they were labelled as "ill", they look at how it could affect their confidence, self-image and relationships. Interactionism Sociologists look at and study the relationships between people who are ill and their family and friends as well as their health care professionals who are helping them. They think that the relationships the individual has are as important and have an equal amount of influence on the individual as a being diagnosed with an illness does. Others disagree with this and say that when the individual focuses on their relationships as an influence of ill health, they forget about the real causes of illness such as poverty and pollution.

Post-modernism
The postmodernism perspective is focused on a wide range of various subjects such as art, music, film, technology and sociology. Postmodernists believe that we shouldn’t talk about subjects such as family, the economy or religion as they are constantly changing. Family arrangements are so different from what they used to be that there is no longer a “typical” family. They believe that due to the constant change, other perspectives such as functionalism cannot help anyone to understand how society works or what it is anymore. Individuals or groups of people can make their own decisions concerning their lifestyle and have more access to leisurely activities and things to buy than ever before.
Collectivism
This perspective is concerned with the providing of services from the government to people to help support the vulnerable and care for them, which have been funded by taxes, taken from working people. The Beveridge Report, from 1942, gave the foundation for a range of services promoting individuals’ welfare. Lord Beveridge noted five “giant evils” that needed to be faced and they were Squalor, Want, Disease, Ignorance and Idleness. An agreement to take collective responsibility for these was agreed and to Want was tackled by allowing a benefits system to be put in place such as family allowance and retirement pensions, disease was fought through the NHS, ignorance was sorted out by expanding secondary school education for all individuals, squalor was combatted by building council houses and idleness was removed by the supply of policies enforcing full time employment.
The New Right
This perspective was in place for many years until 1979 where Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government questioned it. The government believed that they should play as small a role as possible in the welfare of individuals. They believed it was down to the individual themselves to ensure them and their family stayed well. Mrs Thatcher and her government thought that the welfare provision caused people to rely on benefits and free services rather than taking responsibility of themselves and caring for their own and their family’s future.

Biomedical Model
This is the model that was most popular among the industrialised societies, especially during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. The biomedical model links in directly with the policies and the practice of the NHS, it states that when an individual is healthy they are free from disease and do not need the help of medical professionals. The main focus and purpose of health services such as doctors surgeries and hospitals is to cure individuals of their illnesses and the professionals in that service should use scientifically tested ways to make a correct diagnosis on the individuals. Sociologists believe that the fact that there is so much focus on one individual to be cured is a restriction on the biomedical model. Due to this model considering and focusing mainly on the science of the illness and the cure, environmental and social factors are not considered in relation to the individuals illness and the causes could be varied meaning by following this model the professional ignores other factors that could still be contributing to the illness even if the patient is given a medicinal cure they could continue to be ill due to their surroundings. The functionalist approach is mainly linked with the biomedical model as it considers illness as being a flaw in society. If someone is ill then they are not making a contribution to society like they usually would as they have been excused from working and so must co operate with the health care professionals in order to get better quickly to continue as normal once again.
Socio-medical Model
This model focuses on the social factors that add to the health and well-being in society. Research has been able to show that life expectancy has risen and death rates have fallen, especially in infants due to the improvements that have been made to factors such as the availability of clean water, new council hoses and the general increased standards of living in the 19th/20th centuries. All this took place before the introduction of free health care by the NHS, and this evidence supports the idea that social and environmental conditions are significant in terms of illness and health. The socio-medical model is preferred by the conflict theorists more than the functionalist theorists as they would be able to explain that there are higher numbers of people who are ill that live in poor conditions compared to those who live in richer conditions and this is due to their being unequal in society and therefore having an instant disadvantage due to their living conditions. The socialists linked with the socio-medical model would believe that the poorer individuals are more likely to have a bad diet and live in houses containing damp that are situated in busy areas therefore they are surrounded by city pollution and are likely to be unemployed where the social and environmental factors can have a full effect on the individuals health.
Although they are two separate models, the biomedical model looks at the individual and attempts to get the diagnosis and cure for their illness and the socio-medical model looks at the impact that the environment and society has on the individual to cause illness. For this, they are complementary towards each other and can both be used together on one individual.

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