The Sociology and Politics of Health: A Reader

The Sociology and Politics of Health: A Reader

The Sociology and Politics of Health: A Reader

The Sociology and Politics of Health: A Reader

Synopsis

Health care systems, the role of health professionals and the experience of health and illness are all undergoing change and development as we enter the twenty-first century. The Sociology and Politics of Healthis a collection of key readings through which to explore the sociological and political dimensions of health, illness and health care. Combining classic pieces with more up-to-date contributions, it includes examples taken from current domestic and international initiatives and draws on humanist, materialist, feminist and constructionalist perspectives. The Sociology and Politics of Healthcovers:

• ideology and policy

• social stratification

• professionalisation

• the experience of health and illness.

• This reader offers health studies students, nurses and other health professionals an invaluable introduction to an increasingly important field of social inquiry.

Excerpt

The sociology and politics of health is a well-established field of social enquiry. Its significance to anyone wishing to understand the complexities of health, illness and health care practice is likely to increase as we move into the twenty-first century and as health care systems, the role of health professionals and the experience of health and illness continue to be subject to significant change and development. The impact on health care of the radical restructuring of the welfare state, the implications for the role of health professionals of mounting challenges to their authority over health matters, and the effects on personal experience of an imperative of personal responsibility for health and illness are all examples of the scale and scope of change in the health field. With its ability to critically situate health, illness and health care systems in a wider socio-economic and historical context, a sociology and politics of health offers an essential perspective with which to examine the turbulent contemporary health scene in the United Kingdom. This collection of readings is designed to offer health professionals, and in particular nurses, a resource for exploring sociological and political dimensions of health, illness and health care.

Sociology is an essential part of nursing practice since health and social care are always delivered to individual patients and clients in a social context. In working with an individual patient or client the nurse is working with a person whose health care needs are very much affected, if not determined, by the social and cultural processes in which their unique life takes shape, develops and changes. Having a sociological perspective sensitises the nurse to social and political features of health and illness and of the health care systems in which their practice takes place. Such a perspective emphasises that as health care professionals we should be concerned with delivering care to populations and not just to individual patients. In other words, a sociological perspective emphasises the public health role of all nurses. It ensures that public health issues and challenges are not ignored and enables the nurse to recognise social inequalities in health and health care and act to reduce them. A sociological perspective confirms that as nurses we need to recognise that our humanitarian commitment to individualised patient care is only achievable if high quality care is provided for everyone (Purdy 1996).

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