The Relationship between Class and Health
654307 | M12
Word Count: 2006
6th August 2012 | SHN 123
The aim of this essay is to consider how the structural factor of social class affects health, the pre-existing theory being that the length and richness of an individual’s life is strongly shaped by the hierarchies that stand around income, education and occupation (Graham, 2001). This will be achieved by examining ideas and evidence of health inequalities, economic reports and national statistics to validate and determine the best explanations of this theory.
Social class is a term that refers to a group of people who hold a particular economic and social position in society (Laureau and Conley, 2008). Bond and Bond (2000) state that class is a difficult concept to define as a result of its use in many varying ways. For example, class can categorise an individual by their wealth, occupation, power or education.
Additionally, it should be noted what is meant by health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease (WHO 1946). Inequalities in health are the universal phenomenon of variation in health by an individual’s socioeconomic status (Orme et al, 2007).
Health is usually measured by the extent of which illness is detected, and can be measured in way of mortality and morbidity. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has now taken the responsibility over for the General Registrar’s Office of registering deaths (Crompton, 2008). A vital part of their work is the measuring of socio-economic differences in mortality and other health inequalities. In Britain, class has been defined since 1913 using the Registrar Generals scale of Social Class (RCSC). This scale is made up of six main classes, ranging from ‘Professionals’ in Class I to the ‘Unskilled’ in class V. The scale is based on either a...