Sociological Perspectives for Health and Social Essay

There are many different sociological approaches towards health and ill health and they can be used in many different scenarios, such as the scenario of Aziz and Tamsela. Aziz and Tamsela have 4 young children and Tamsela’s parents are also living with them. Their house only has 3 bedrooms so will be cramped and over crowed since there is eight people living in a tiny house. Their house is in a poverty-stricken and discouraging part of London. Also, their house is in a bad state as it is damp and they find it quite costly to keep the house warm in winter since Aziz and Tamsela both don’t have a job. The whole family are in poor health as Aziz and Tamsela’s children seem to have a permanent cold all through winter. Tamsela is asthmatic and her father is suffering from bronchitis. Tamsela’s mother is depressed and she has been prescribed anti-depressant drugs for her condition.


The Functionalist approach to health and ill health is that if you are ill it must be managed so hardly anyone is released from their responsibilities in society all at once. Functionalists contend that an excessively large definition of illness would disturb the workings of society. Basically, someone is only really ill if they can’t do some of their daily activities because of their illness. They see ill health as being a bad thing for society. Functionalist approach to the scenario would be that Tamsela might not actually be classed as being ill as long as she herself feels fine and her asthma isn’t too bad; if she is still able to get on with her daily activities then she will be fine and will be able to continue as normal. Tamsela’s father would be classed as being ill since his bronchitis will make him very ill, so ill that he won’t be able to do his daily activities so will need to go and get some help from a doctor to help him to make a quick recovery so he can get back to normal and do his daily activities; also he would have to control his condition by staying away from the rest if the family so his illness doesn’t spread to them.

Aziz and Tamsela’s children may not be classed as being ill even though they have colds since they might not actually feel ill as their colds might not bother them so they still will be able to do their activities meaning, they won’t be classed as being ill; also, with them being ill even though they may feel fine, they will have to stay away from the rest of the family so they don’t catch their colds as it could be worse on the rest of the family and could possibly prevent them from getting on with their daily activities. Tamsela’s mother would probably not be classed as being ill even though she’s depressed as she has been giving drug to help her control her illness; she may feel fine as the tablets will have improved her condition so she might not see herself as being ill and will be able to get on with her daily activities. Aziz is perfectly fine but functionists would say he should stay away from those who have illnesses that are contagious as he could end up getting ill, which could cause him to be unable to get on with his daily activities.


The feminist approach towards health and ill health is based on how men dominate in medical occupation and the impact that this has on women. They focus on how some female issues are classed as being a medical problem. For example, pregnancy and child birth are considered as being a medical problem or it sometimes can be known as an illness, even though it’s a natural process. Feminists also believe that the use of women in society has shown that women are a lot more likely than men to suffer from things, like anxiety, depression and stress; women are put onto prescriptive drugs like anti-depressants rather than actually addressing their problem. If this approach was used in the scenario, they would focus more on the women in the family as feminism is all about helping women.

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Tamsela actually has an actual medical condition as she has asthma so would need help with her condition as she could get worse in the winter because of the cold winter weather. Tamsela’s mother has depression and has been given anti-depressants for this problem but her problem will need to be addressed fully by trying to find ways to get through it as anti-depressants aren’t exactly going to help her get over this, plus she may end up feeling like she’s dependant on the drugs to stop her depression from getting bad so will need to get counselling to try to prevent this from happening.


The interactionist approach to health and ill health mainly focuses on what happens in someone’s life. Interactionists feel anxious if someone who is ill doesn’t see themselves as being ill. For example, some people who are paralysed from their waist down would still go and do things that they would’ve done even if they weren’t paralysed, whilst others would just stay in their home and do nothing. Another example of this would be that someone with cancer may run a marathon or find another way to raise money for charity, whilst someone else who is in the same condition might prefer to be hospitalised. Interactionists would prefer to discuss how ill the person actually is so they can know what to do about the way they are. The way this would fit in with the scenario is that Tamsela has asthma, which is a medical condition that can make you ill if you have asthma attacks so she will need to realise that she is actually as she has a medical condition, even if she feels like she’s perfectly fine.

Tamsela’s father would be classed as being ill as bronchitis is a serious medical condition but he probably would see himself as being ill as bronchitis makes you feel very ill so he may need to be hospitalised to prevent his condition from getting even worse than it already is. Aziz and Tamsela’s children all have colds but may not necessarily feel unwell but functionalist would say they need to realise that they are actually ill as they could get worse if they just leave it and not do anything about it, even if they feel fine it doesn’t exactly mean nothing should be done about it. Tamsela’s mother has depression, which is classed as a mental illness but she has already noticed the problem and got something done for it by getting prescribed anti-depressants that will help to prevent her condition from getting worse so the functionalist would say she has done well by noticing her illness then getting something done about it. Marxism

The Marxist approach to health and illness is that Marxists believe that the actual definition of health and ill health is pretty strong minded by the upper class. Marxists also believe that doctors only give their full help out to people of the upper class; they believe this since the upper class have more power and money so they are able to enjoy a higher and better standard of health. Marxists believe that the government don’t spend enough money on trying to address the main causes of ill-health. For example, poverty and poor housing are main causes of ill-health. Health and illness is seen as a social class problem that is related to social inequality. The way this approach fits in with the scenario is that Aziz and Tamsela’s family live in a poverty stricken area of London and they are in bad housing since their house in a bad state of repair as it is damp and they struggle to keep it warm in winter due to the both of them being unemployed. The reason why they have to deal with these main causes of ill-health is since they aren’t in upper class so don’t have the money to be able to make sure that they all have good health and live in a decent sized house in an area that isn’t poverty stricken. These aspects have made the whole family ill and Marxists would say that the government should give more money to people like Aziz and Tamsela so their problem of ill health can be avoided.

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