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Sociological Modes, Concepts and Perspectives

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    Sociological perspectives are how sociologists look at social factors such as, Functionalism, Symbolic Interactionism, Marxism, Feminism and Conflict Theory to find out why people behave they wat that they do. (I. Robertson, 19811) and (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    The functionalism perspective is a system in society of interconnected parts which work together such as norms and institutions. For example, the family is where a child first learns about values such as right from wrong. For example, people do not take what it is not theirs without permission. These values are instilled in education and the justice system implements key norms such as not to steal, (Wyatt, et al, 2017). Critics of this theory argue that it doesn’t justify how cultures are civilisations are changing. Many critics claim that this does not account for contradictions in culture: for example, for example the standards of equal opportunity are recognised as ideals that people want to encourage in their culture, and certain people do not have equal opportunities in education, employment and health or social care services. Women for example, often earn less than men and have lesser job prospects. According to Haroon Siddique, people of minority ethnic backgrounds had to submit 80% more applications than a white person of British descent to obtain a positive response from the employer. (Haroon Siddique, 2019). Functionalism provides a harmonious view of society and avoids tensions, for example, between groups. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    Symbolic interactionism argues that human behaviour, through symbolic interaction with others, is influenced by concepts and meanings. The sociologist Thomas (1966) highlighted the importance of meanings and context in and implications of social behaviour. He indicated that people respond not to the actual situation itself but to their perception of a situation. For example, Symbolic interactionism also implies that social interaction influences individuals’’ personality or sense of self. Individuals establish their definition of others by watching how they communicate with them and how they define them. (Mooney, Knox and Schacht, 2007)

    The functionalism perspective considers society as being comprised of the different pieces that operate together. Conversely, the perception of conflict considers society to be composed of various classes and wealth. The viewpoint of conflict explores different aspects of social system by looking at which groups hold control and benefit from a specific social arrangement. Feminist theory, for example, claims that people live in a patriarchal society – a hierarchical social structure dominated by men. (Mooney, Knox and Schacht, 2007). In south Africa apartheid was built on racial discrimination. Political authority had created rules regulating where people could work, what jobs they may do and whom can marry. In effect this restricted their access to economic power. Military force had implemented the structure in the form of police brutality. The method was finally questioned, and it reformed peacefully. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    In 1956. C. A sociologists, Wright Mills, issued The Power Elite, a classic sociological book. In the study he explained how a minor power elite influenced the living conditions in America to suit their particular interests in politics, industry and the military. Their power was used to manipulate the ‘super culture’ which in fact affected the base’ (Marxian terms) creating a highly media influenced consumer culture. The public would spend time watching tv or on social media affecting their lifestyles such as their choice of clothing, what to eat, how they should raise their kids, if they should own a gun. Thus, the powerful elite became rich by investing in material development to meet the needs of the public. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    Sociological approach to the study of human behaviour

    Social cohesion, norms and values are considered as sociological approaches. Social cohesion is described as a willingness of groups that form a bond and come together to create a united group. Social cohesion is a way of psychologists to identify individuals’ differences and characteristics and measure how a whole group interacts with each other to operate. Such as norms and values. These are things that are not a law but everyone still follows it. For example, when shopping people queue up in line to be served instead of pushing in. (Wyatt, el, 2017) and (, No Date)

    In sociology culture is identified as shared ideas and behaviour by a society. For example, ‘British culture’. For some people British culture involves eating fish and chips and for others supporting a football team. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    Subculture is identified as smaller communities within a larger community in sociology for example, gang culture. Gang culture is considered as violence, drugs from teenagers and proving their loyalty to the group. It geographically based and being in the wrong area can cause gang member to die. ‘Baby Boomers’ are also a well-known gang in the British culture of the generation born in the years if 1946 to 1964. however, they were known for positive reasons. They rejected modern standards and redefined them. Because of the economic crisis of 2008, they retire later in life but live longer than any other generation before them. (Dan Schawbel, 2017) and (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    Family, religion, education and the justice system are types of social institutions that have the same norms, values and behaviours, which guides people into becoming a part of society. Family is the first social foundation that kids observe as they learn to talk, eat and dress themselves at home. Toilet training is generally achieved at home before they start school. Saying ‘please and ‘thank you’ are basic British culture social norms that are learnt as well as taking turn and not being selfish. Whereas in education, which is also a social institution that shows people how to become a good citizen by teaching adequate social behaviour and general knowledge that is required of every individual of the society to know, such as how to read and write. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    Religion is another social structure in which norms and values are conveyed with a view to impact how an individual communicates as part of a larger society. Their values are expressed through their behaviours such as empathy by sharing, donating to charity and helping others in need. These principles contribute to social cohesion as they believe these values and norms are expected. For example, in Christian churches, they pass around a collection plate to donate money. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    The justice system which includes, police and probation officers, judges and lawyers maintain the values of law, by ensuring that everyone follows. For example, if someone was caught shoplifting, the police would be called to either give the person a warning or to arrest them. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    Biomedical, social and ecological modes of health and wellbeing

    The biomedical model deals with the physical or biological aspects of illness and disease by the medical health system, raising funds and offering an existing career framework for many. The biomedical goal is to cure people so they are safe from disease. This pattern is linked to the saying ‘a pill for every ill’. General body structures such as the circulatory system or digestive system are the key elements. The model uses pharmacological approach to drugs and uses surgery to treat the patient. The model has its uses such as if a someone has a burst appendix the most effective treatment method is prescribing antibiotics followed by surgery. A lump of the breast may be cancer so it is best for removal. A critique of this model is that antibiotic dependence has been excessive. The microorganisms develop an antibiotic resistance. Currently there is tuberculosis and gonorrhoea resistant medicines, and staphylococcus aureus is immune to methicillin. Yet critiques of the biomedical concept are that it is difficult to cure other conditions such as autism, dementia and inoperable cancer and that the biomedical model only has one framework as its goal, which is to cure physical diseases. Doctors trained in structures like the cardiovascular system or the nervous system and do not often reflect the interplay between various parts of the body. SPRINT an American project aimed at lowering blood pressure faster by offering more medications, was stopped because researchers had not measured the adverse effects in other body functions. Reducing blood pressure too rapidly caused fainting in others, and exposed damage to the kidneys in others. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    In the 1970s and 1980s, a social health concept evolved as it was understood that the current model did not solve all health problems. (Wyatt, et al, 2017). The social model of health acknowledges a wider set of factors, for example, environmental, social, economic and cultural, that affect the health and wellbeing of an individual. (Discover Psychology, No Date). The aim of this model is to promote and maintain good health. Individuals who lack money to feed their children and clothe them cannot live a healthy life and those who are socially isolated. This is because if they cannot afford to eat two to three meals a day or even one, this can cause health issues as they cannot afford to have a balanced diet. Cultural factors can cause people to be discriminated against, for example, wheelchair users. They may not be able to access some healthcare services as they haven’t provided any railways for them to use. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    vEnvironmental factors such as poor housing can cause respiratory disease. For example, if a family of four living in a small two-bedroom house can cause humidity un the house, such as dampness and mould. This has an impact on their health. The purpose of the social health model is to reduce inequality and empower communities and individuals by expanding access to health care and promoting cooperation between health and care sectors. CCGs in England design community-based health and social service on this model. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)
    According to the social concept of disability, culture is affected as it makes life difficult for them to get around. For example, train platforms may only be available for people who are non-wheelchair users and don’t use pushchairs. Failure to make disability changes prevents individuals the opportunity to earn their own income, which leave them dependent in the government. This social health model has been used widely to empower disabled individuals, improve access to health services and help them to live independently. In the field of mental health, a 2010 study by Peter Beresford, Mary Nettle and Rebecca Perring found that the dominant mental health system created negative behaviours, language contributed to labelling and stigma creating obstacles for users of mental heath services. Many people with mental health issues did not believe they had a disability but found the social model to be more empowering than the medical model. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    An advantage if this model is that it aims to keep individuals healthy by enhancing access to information and encouraging them to control their own health and wellbeing. This is ensuring that resources are delivered where they are needed and less money is lost. As it cost the researchers and the NHS money to cure individuals. The commitment to the social model means that people obtain a better quality of life for themselves. Though, there are some issues within this model. For example, not everyone wants to take responsibility of their own health as they may find it difficult to change their habit, do more exercise and lose weight. Another issue is that this strategy does not adapt to all health conditions. For example, an individual with multiple sclerosis can have a better-quality life by having the ability to work and live independently, but the condition will still remain. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)

    The ecological model is based on multiple interaction variables that are interdependent in life. Interpersonal influences consider increasing levels of health behavioural control from influences such as relationships with others. An example of this is 80-year old woman who has dementia (intrapersonal), because of her dementia she has difficulty remembering things. (interpersonal), therefore she is required to have supported living or live in a care home, so that her needs are met as she is unable to do them herself due to her dementia. These things include, personal care, such as cooking meals for her to ensure that she is eating and ensuring that she has a shower and fresh clean clothes to put on. There are also charities that can help to support her such as Dementia UK, who provide admiral practitioners to help support people who are affected by dementia (community) (DementiaUK, No Date). There are laws, policies and procedures that help to ensure that the 80-year-old woman will get the care and support that she needs. For example, the care act 201, promotes the independence and wellbeing of people that require care. (GOV.UK, 2016) This is done by creating person centred care for the 80-year-old woman, so that she can still have a say in her own care. (organisational)

    Sociological concepts in relation to health and social care

    Social realism is a way of expressing reality like things that are going on in the world but people are not talking about it. This can be expressed through art and literature, For example, a graffiti artist who goes by the name of Banksy who attracts attention to social issues by expressing his political and social views of society through art in public areas.

    The theory of social constructionism links to psychology as it is about how people view the world and gain awareness in a social context, and that much of what is interpreted by people as reality depends on common assumptions. From a social constructionist point of view, many things people take for granted and assume are impartial reality are simply socially created, and can thus change as society evolves. (Cynthia Vinney, 2019), For example, in before the 1960s women were socially constructed as being a housewife, doing all the cleaning, cooking and looking after the kids, whereas, men were socially constructed as getting the bread, so they would be out working while the women stayed home. However, the generation of women in Baby Boomers in the 1960s, changed this social construct. Now women share the same responsibilities as men such as work and children responsibilities. (Wyatt, et al, 2017)


    • DementiaUK, (No Date). DementiaUK. Available at:[Accessed 25 March 2020].
    • GOV.UK, (2016). Care Act factasheets. Available at:[Accessed 25 March 2020].
    • Mooney, K. S., (2007). The Three Main Sociological Perpectives.Available at:[Accessed 20 March 2020].
    • Schawbel, D., (2017). 53 Of The Most Interesting Facts About Baby Boomers.Available at:[Accessed 22 March 2020].
    • Siddique, H., (2019). Minority ethnic Britons face ‘shocking’ job discrimination.Available at:[Accessed 22 March 2020].
    • Sociology, D., (No Date). Discover Sociology.Available at:[Accessed 25 March 2020].
    •, (No Date). What Is Social Cohesion? – Definition &amp Theory. Available at:[Accessed 18 March 2020].
    • Vinney, C., (2019). Social Constructionism Definition and Examples. Available at:[Accessed 24 March 2020].
    • Wyatt, Wedlake, Peteiro, Rasheed., (2017) Extended Diploma in Health &amp Social Care. London: Hodder Education.

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