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Discuss about the Health Management ?

Answer :


Sociology as a discipline is conceptualized as the study of society or social life. Essentially, Sociology studies society in totality including aspects such as its origin, networks, institutions, developments and organizations (Keirns et al., 2013). In this sense, therefore, the scope of sociology extends as far as including the study of human health. It assesses the extent to which the society interacts with health issues (Keirns et al., 2013).  According to Keirns et al., (2013), health in most cases is approached from a biological or biomedical perspective, the relevance and influence of social aspects in human health cannot be taken for granted. Other than biological/natural causes of illnesses, sociology tends to point out other related factors that lead to illnesses. These factors are such as the socioeconomic factors, cultural factors, and beliefs (Keirns et al., 2013). The primary purpose of this paper, therefore, is to discuss the social determinants of health by drawing from both functionalist and Marxist perspective. Additionally, the paper also seeks to show how the two differ from the medical model.

 Sociology traverses two major distinct approaches in the study of health and sickness (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015). On the one hand, sociology attempts to discuss illness through the application of sociological viewpoints. In this view, sociology analyses the social construction of health and disease as well as the experience of illness. Here, sociology plays a significant role in contributing to the multidisciplinary research particularly in issues perceived fundamental by the clinicians and other health professionals (Purnell et al., 2016).  Additionally, Purnell et al., (2016) argue that sociology influences the formation of health-related policies and also contributes to epidemiological studies. On the other hand, sociology paves the way for better understanding of the social processes and their effects on individual human health as well as that of the social groups. These processes are far-reaching and include processes such as risk and consumption, social inequalities, power and knowledge, professional relationships and self-identity and change.

 Functionalist theory addresses the importance of cooperation and stability of society (Willis, 2015). Moreover, the theory stresses the significant roles played by the social events so as to enhance the continuity of society. In this case, therefore, the proponents of the theory liken the society to a biological organism (Willis, 2015).). In other words, the whole is seen as comprising of the parts which are integrated.  The aspect of integration is further perceived as resulting from a felt consensus on norms and values. The functionalists' analogy of biological organism is used to explain the social determinants of health and illnesses. Some of these determinants include; availability and access to resources, access to health care services, social support, exposure to crime, social disorder and violence, public safety and access to education, job opportunities and economic. Parsons, one of the contributors to functionalist theory cites illness as a social happening other than a physically occurring condition (Frank, 2013). The functionalists perceive health as a state in which an individual can perform his/her roles and effectively. On the other hand, failure to fulfil these roles due to illness results to "sick role" (Frank, 2013).


According to the functionalist theory, good health is fundamental to smooth functioning of society since individuals can go about satisfying their roles (Willis, 2015). Sickness leads to failure to fulfil roles. Consequently, when some roles within a society are not met, it means that the society strains.  Parsons sees illness as a deviance that disrupts the normal functioning of society (Willis, 2015). Deriving from a functionalist perspective, a sick person is non-productive. The non-productivity is thus a form of deviance or dysfunction that should be dealt with by the medical professionals.  The medical system or the medical professionals, hence, have a duty towards treating, preventing and curing those illnesses that interfere with the performance of the social actions and norms. Adler and Cutler (2016) also maintain that illness is a serious threat to a social structure and the roles that mend it (social structure) together. In explaining these threats, Parsons emphasizes on the aspect of the sick role.

 The sick role has four fundamental components. Firstly, the sick person is exempted from the normal social obligations and roles. Secondly, the sick person cannot be held responsible for his or her illness. Thirdly, the sick has a responsibility towards ensuring that he or she gets well. Fourthly, the sick should seek for the relevant help as well as comply with the help of the health provider. Failure to comply with the stipulations of sick role renders a person a deviant and thus cannot be perceived as sick. An example of social theory in action is such as when a high school student prepares to become an attorney. In this case, the student knows that for him/her to achieve the dream has to undertake some test and apply for a vacancy in the college. When granted the opportunity, the student has an obligation to work hard and achieve the best grade so as to proceed to a school of law. That way, he/she will have achieved the dream of becoming an attorney. Conversely, the student is also aware that failure to do well in college impedes his/her opportunity of becoming an attorney. Hence, the student musts endeavour to take the necessary steps so as to achieve the goal.


The second sociological perspective that equally offers in-depth information about the social determinants of health is Marxist perspective. There is a growing literature concerning the social determinants of health (Adler & Cutler, 2016). The literature has appreciably contributed to the understanding of the interrelatedness between the health and class.  A major proposition of Marxist perspective is the centrality of the material production as the chief of all human activities (Cockerham, 2014). The production involves even the most basic human needs such as shelter, clothing, and food. It also encompasses the production of a variety of commodities within the modern society. Marxist perspective is applied in the medical sector since it provides a background that explains the social origin of illnesses. Cockerham (2014) contends that the population health outcomes are highly influenced by the performance of the capitalist economic system. Furthermore, this influence occurs at two levels.

 In the first level, health is affected directly or indirectly. Directly, health is affected by things such as stress or industrial related diseases. Indirectly, health is mainly affected by the effects of the processes of production within a modern capitalist society (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015).  For instance, health may be affected by the effects of environmental pollution. In addition, the consumption of some of the processed commodities can have negative impacts on one's health. In the second level, health is influenced by the magnitude of distribution. Individuals' living standard is in most cases determined by their wealth and income (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2015). In other words, wealth and income determine people's access to education, health facilities, housing, recreational chances, and diet. In essence, such factors are essential in the social blueprint of health.


The social determinants of health have triggered numerous transformations within the health sector (Benach et al. 2014). As a matter of fact, health promotion and the public health have shifted from the behavioural and biomedical approaches to diseases. The former and the latter have previously been attributed to the major causes of diseases citing aspects such as genetic traits, personal choice, health inequalities as well as individual characteristics (Ng & Muntaner, 2014). The approach of the social determinants of health seeks to relate the poor health outcome with low income and poverty. For instance, Ng and Muntaner (2014) maintain that the communities densely populated with people with low income tend to register higher rates of individuals with mental health issues, infectious and chronic diseases, extreme tear and wear on human bodies and economic deprivation.

 The social determinants of health, as postulated by Marx, do not effectively deal with the very mechanisms that propagate economic and social inequalities between the have and the have-nots (Ng & Muntaner, 2014). The exploitation of the poor by the rich has also been ignored. Thus, to understand the social determinants of health from a Marxist perspective, there is the need to ensure social and economic transformation (Cockerham, 2014). According to Cockerham (2014), achieving the two would result in a responsive health care system for all.


Social determinants of health vary from those described by the biomedical model. The biomedical model of health underpins a person's physical functioning and uses the same to determine one's condition (Chambers, Feero & Khoury, 2016). Chambers and the colleagues define disease regarding the presence of illness or sickness. Moreover, the disease or illness is seen by Chambers, Feero, and Khoury as emanating from physical or natural causes such as infections or body injury. Markedly, the model recognizes neither the psychological nor the social factors. The defining feature of the biomedical model is that it depends on biomedical changes (Strickland & Patrick, 2015). These changes are definable, measurable and can be isolated as well. The focus, in this case, is based on the functioning of dysfunction of body tissues and organs as opposed to the patient's general condition (Strickland & Patrick, 2015). Additionally, Strickland and Patrick (2015) hold that the mode of treatment of the biomedical conditions involves the elimination of the identified causes of a given condition. The model is rooted in the belief that any illness is temporary thus curable (Tuckett, 2013). Illness is also entirely a physical condition. 

 In conclusion, it is evident that the sociological perspectives (functionalism and Marxist) provide an in-depth analysis of the social determinants of health. The social model assesses how factors such as economic, lifestyle and environmental factors affect a person's health and behaviour. That is, behaviour in taking health-related risks and decision making about health care. This is a different focus from the biomedical model approach that stresses on biological and pathological causes of a disease. It touches on aspects external to the biological process to include factors such as gender, wealth, working environment, income, race and lifestyle as threats to good health. Nevertheless, both models play a significant role in determining the causes of diseases and equally offer solutions to the same. Therefore, it is important to consider both aspects in the diagnosis and treatment of a disease. In other words, the entire reliance on either of the models may impede the diagnosis process as well as constrain the treatment.



Adler, N. E., & Cutler, D. M. (2016). Addressing Social Determinants of Health and

Health Disparities.Benach, J., Vives, A., Amable, M., Vanroelen, C., Tarafa, G., & Muntaner, C. (2014). Precarious employment: understanding an emerging social determinant of health. Annual review of public health, 35, 229-253.

Chambers, D. A., Feero, W. G., & Khoury, M. J. (2016). Convergence of implementation

Science, precision medicine, and the learning health care system: a new model for

Biomedical research. Jama, 315(18), 1941-1942.

Cockerham, W. C. (2014). Medical sociology. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Frank, A. W. (2013). From sick role to practices of health and illness. Medical education,

47(1), 18-25.

Keirns, N. J., Strayer, E., Griffiths, H., Cody-Rydzewski, S., Scaramuzzo, G., Sadler, T.,

& Vyain, S. (2013). Introduction to Sociology. OpenStax College, Rice University.

Ng, E., & Muntaner, C. (2014). A critical approach to macrosocial determinants of

population health: engaging scientific realism and incorporating social conflict. Current Epidemiology Reports, 1(1), 27-37.

Purnell, J. Q., Simon, S., Zimmerman, E. B., Camberos, G. J., & Fields, R. (2016). Policy

implications of social determinants of health. Prevention, policy, and public health, 93.Strickland, C. M., & Patrick, C. J. (2015). Biomedical Model. The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology.

Tuckett, D. (2013). An introduction to medical sociology. Routledge.

Weiss, G. L., & Lonnquist, L. E. (2015). Sociology of health, healing, and illness.


Willis, E. (2015). Talcott Parsons: His legacy and the sociology of health and illness. In

The Palgrave handbook of social theory in health, illness and medicine (pp. 207-221). Palgrave Macmillan UK.


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