How Valuable Is Sociological Knowledge in Contributing to Our Understanding of Contemporary Health Issues? Essay
Sociological knowledge assists understanding of how social issues impact on health and illness experiences in society (Barry & Yuill 2008, pp - How Valuable Is Sociological Knowledge in Contributing to Our Understanding of Contemporary Health Issues? Essay introduction. 5-10). In this context, sociological issues will refer to case study number one, about Ernie. By focussing on sociological imagination, this essay will illustrate how private troubles can be viewed as public issues. This will be followed by a discussion of structure and agency through a gender perspective as such an approach enhances our understanding of men and women’s health.
It will be argued that the application of sociological knowledge is a fundamental approach in nursing, essential if a more knowledgeable and competent profession is to be developed. First, however the case scenario will be briefly summarised. Ernie is 59 year old man. He has developed emphysema. He might have no formal qualifications and has worked as a labourer on building and construction sites for most of his working life. The building industry is one that is especially sensitive to economic down turns.
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When the economic problems of 2009 began, building industry collapsed he was one of the first to become unemployed. Since then, he has had difficulty dealing with government bureaucracy to receive a disability support pension. Additionally, his wife, Gloria, has a physical job because she is also unskilled. Moreover, Ernie cannot cope with unemployment and poverty. As a consequence, he has indulged in some negative behaviour such as smoking and consuming alcohol.
Finally, all these factors have led to domestic violence. Firstly, sociological imagination is a sociological term defined as the ability to see private experiences and personal difficulties as entwined with the structural arrangements of a society and the times in which humans live (Andersen & Taylor 2005, p. 5). The sociological imagination helps to develop an understanding and even outlines the existence of society to the individual (Fuller 2006, p. 12).
Furthermore, there are two fundamental concepts that go along with sociological imagination: troubles, which deal with personal matters of an individual, and issues, which deal with the public matters of an entire society (Willis & Elmer 2008, pp. 3-4). To understand social reality, private troubles must be examined in the context of the larger issue (Kendall 2007, p. 7). There is a strong relationship between private and public troubles (Willis & Elmer 2008, pp. 3-4). Kendall (2008, pp. 6-10) explains that an individual’s troubles are personal when they occur because of the individual characteristics.
She also notes that public issues, however, are a direct result of the problems within society. As well, she argues that they significantly affect people but often the individual will perceive the problem as their own personal defeat rather than as a societal problem. For example, the sociological imagination articulates Ernie’s experiences of unemployment, poverty, disease, and so forth as personal troubles. It then connects those private problems by viewing these as issues, which is, influenced by broader societal factors (Jamrozik & Nocella 1998, p. 2). Another example of a social issue that can be viewed either as a private trouble or public issues is domestic violence. It is a common myth to view domestic violence as a personal problem between a husband and a wife (Kirby 2000, p. 87). However, it is a public issue amenable to sociological knowledge (Bell 1993, p. 3). Marriage problems are a private matter until these problems manifest themselves as physical and psychological violence (Webber 2008, p. 18). In this case study, Ernie’s recent situation has led him to domestic violence.
It is a complex issue, caused by the interrelationship of many contributing factors (The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2000, pp. 7-8). UNICEF also states that two of these are economics and cultural, both of which have underpins women’s vulnerability to violence over recent years. However, the main difficulty with domestic violence is that men and women do not see that their private troubles are connected with broader public issues (Ballantine & Roberts 2009, pp. 9-15). In addition, based on the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services Australia statistics (2009, p. ) 46 percent of females with children who accessed the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program services in the Australian Capital Territory were seeking assistance due to domestic violence.
This percentage shows that many people experience domestic violence therefore it is not something which is merely a personal matter. Secondly, the concepts of sociological imagination can be seen clearly through structure and agency model (Germov & Poole 2007, p. 8). In sociological theory, agency is defined as the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices (Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff & Virk 2007, p. 20). Structure is described as the recurrent patterned arrangements which seem to influence or limit the choices and opportunities that individuals possess (Willis & Elmer 2008, pp. 77-79). This can be seen in the example of social class, which, for many people, confront that which is generally taken to be natural (Edgar & Sedgwick 1999, p. 123). Furthermore, social class can be defined as a broad group in society having common economic, cultural, or political status (Willis & Elmer 2008, pp. 77-79). For example, social class may have influenced Ernie’s health via his negative behaviours.
In particular, Ernie is a smoker and now suffers from emphysema. It may be a consequence from his socio-economic background. Additionally, the poor are more likely to smoke than the wealthy, and people of developing countries than those of developed countries (Friel 2009, p. 18). It is clear that there is a powerful connection between education, poverty and health (Swinnerton 2006, pp. 75-83). People with few educational qualifications fail to get a secure and well paid employment which may have consequence for their health (Booth & Caroll 2005, p. ). As a result, people from low socio-economic status may not have a good awareness of how important it is to take care of their own health (Turale & Miller 2006, p. 173). Another example of structure and agency is the influence of gender. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women (Willis & Elmer 2008, pp. 85-91). The concept of men recognised as the breadwinner and as the main financial provider in the family (Hobson 2002, p. 174).
In Ernie’s case, he has lost his job. Therefore he may have no self-confident as a leader in his family because he earns nothing. In his family, the husband has been the breadwinner; that trend is changing as his wife, Gloria start to support family’s finance. Moreover, he may be condemned as being lazy and labelled simply as a ‘scrounger’ in the social structure (Clegg 1990, pp. 406-408). Ernie’s situation does not match his ideas about masculinity. As a result, the inability of Ernie to fulfil the ‘breadwinner’ role may lead him to poor health and domestic violence.
In biomedical theory, Ernie’s structure-agency tends to be blame the victim or ‘victim-blaming’. In this model, individual plays an important role for their own health and illness experience and only focus on body part rather than as a holistic view (Willis & Elmer 2008, p. 34). The limitation of biomedical model can be one of the biggest challenges in nursing to think critically in understanding contemporary health issues (Lamanna, Riedmann & Riedmann 2006, p. 185). Cooke (1993, pp. 210-216) argues that sociological imagination enables nurses to look at the social world through a new interpretative lens.
For example, under this perspective, nurses will be able to provide an intellectual basis for nurses’ claims to a unique holistic approach to care. Finally, the primary contribution of sociological knowledge relevant to nurses is identified as a vehicle for encouraging nurses to distance themselves from easily accepted assumptions (Denny & Earle 2005, p. 30). This could lead the nurse to be able to see Ernie’s situation more broadly as the result of societal factors, and not blame Ernie entirely for his situation. However, in Ernie’s case, he hit his wife, Gloria.
Not only did he use force against his own wife, it is rather a means by which men use power over women within patriarchal household relations (Chow & Berheide 1994, p. 15). Even though, her married may be not perfect, Gloria still stays with his husband. In general, there are many reasons why women stay with violent offenders. In this case study, she maybe believes that Ernie is sick and needs help. Moreover, she may be wants to view as a good and ‘faithful’ wife. As overall, Gloria’s choice is affected by gender role. Gender role refers to the public image of being male or female that a person presents to others (Kornblum 2008, p. 66). Moreover, in Gloria’s position, a nurse may be the first non-family member that she turns to for help. As nurses, their job is not to cure patients or solve their problems but nurses will be able to offer tools and options that will help the clients make their own decisions (Walsh & Crumbie 2007, P. 19). In particular, nurses will take other appropriate interventions to keep Gloria safe. Nurses also could be therapeutic partners to listen without judging, provide emotional support, and help women get in touch with a victim advocate (Government of Tasmania 2003, p. 180).
In conclusion, the application of sociological knowledge is a fundamental approach in nursing practise to develop holistic nursing care. Clearly, sociological knowledge helps a nurse to understand why people behave as they do and how their position in the social structure may be related to health and illness experiences. In this case study, Ernie’s problems cannot be seen only as his personal problems but need to view as public issues. Furthermore, in order to analyse the effects of human behaviour generally, it is important to see the world with a sociological state of mind and to see it whole.
Finally, it is indicated that the concept of private troubles, public issue, structure and agency enables nurses to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. . The burden and costs of chronic diseases in low-income and middle-income countries The burden and costs of chronic diseases in low-income and middle-income countries The Lancet, Volume 370, Issue 9603, Pages 1929-1938 D. Abegunde, C. Mathers, T. Adam, M. Ortegon, K. Strong , 2007 – Elsevier are important analytical tools in enhancing our understanding of Ernie’s health.
It is clear that Mills believed that society shaped individuals, but he also believed that individuals help to shape society. In this case scenario, social As a result, he has developed emphysema now. Clearly, it is as a. In contrast, in biomedical theory, Ernie’s structure-agency tends to be view as victim-blaming. In this model, individual plays an important role for their own health and illness experience only focus on body part rather than as a holistic view (Willis & Elmer 2008, p. 34). Another example of structure and agency is the concept of men as the bread inner in the family. Most believe that a man should earn money to support his family. In Ernie’s case, he has lost his job. Therefore he has no self-confident as a leader in his family because he earns nothing. As a consequence, Ernie’s recent situation has led him to domestic violence. Sociologists believe that domestic violence happen to women as a result men loss their confidence. Furthermore, Kirby (2000, p. 87) states that it is a common myth view domestic violence as a personal problem between a husband and a wife.
However, it is not a private matter between spouses (Hamilton & Thompson 2002, p. 330). Moreover, in Ernie’s case, he has lost his job. As a consequence, he might have limited access to cash or credit and automatically accept it as his own personal trouble. Therefore, he might have no self-confident anymore as a leader in his family because he earns nothing. secondly By Anne-Marie Barry, Chris Yuill. 2008 Understanding the Sociology of Health: An Introduction 2nd edn sage publication Ltd, London Cooke, H. (1993) Why teach sociology?
Nurse Education Today, 13, 210±16. The duality of structure and agency can be useful to analyse Ernie’s situation. His problems are a complex sociological issue, caused by the interrelationship of many contributing factors. Two of these are his individual problems and the society. Based on biomedical model, Based on sociological perspective, Society contributes to domestic violence that happen in between Ernie and Gloria. As In the biomedical model, Ernie’s situation tends to be viewed as a complex social problems rather than individual problems.
Biomedical model is Two of these are globalisation and the increased use of technology, both of which have increased at an incredible rate over recent years. Although these two factors have been a part of the problem, they could also prove to be very important in the solution to the phenomenon of global warming, helping to reduce the negative impacts of climate change. Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life Readings By Jodi A. O’Brien, David M. Newman victim blaming Mills, C. W. (1973). The Sociological Imagination. London: Penguin.
In doing the assumptions upon which our commonsense experiences of gender are predicated are revealed (Lewins, 1995). These fundamental assumptions include: there are two ‘complimentary’ sexes – one male and the other female; the differences between the sexes are intrinsic to the individual and are therefore ‘real’ and ‘natural’; and that there is a sexual dimorphism which is foundational and is a determinant For example, gender is such a pervasive part of an individual’s everyday experiences that our commonsense understandings, such as gender as something ‘natural’ or inherent, often go unchallenged.
However in order to move beyond these experiences and understandings of gender they must first be rendered visible. The sociological concepts of structure and agency are invaluable analytical tools that enable us to begin the process of rendering the taken-for-granted nature of gender visible. The application of structure and agency reveal significant insights into our everyday experiences and, when combined, allow for an understanding of gender that takes us well beyond that which we take-for-granted.