Introduction understood through this lens. In relation, the contribution

Introduction

Sociology is a field that is considered as vibrant as well as a
considerable exciting academic enterprise in the 21st century. The contemporary sociology is typically different
from the sociology in the 1950-1980’s era. Subsequently, this can be credited to the fact that the contemporary sociology is more diverse regarding the subject
matter as well as theoretically. Also, it has incorporated more areas of
social life thanks to specialized fields of inquiries. In simple terms, the
best definition of sociology should
entail a planned and organized study of human groups and social life in modern
society, primarily concerned with the social
institution. The relationship between sociology and the subject topic
can be understood through this lens. In
relation, the contribution of sociologist in the understanding of how humans
behave is by far remarkable. The paper will, therefore, use this lens to
explain how exactly sociologist views the relationship between key social variables
like race, gender, class, and health.

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The
relationship between the mentioned variables can be classified as very important to sociologists. Relatively, one
can argue that the intersection of race, gender and class can be helpful in
predicting health-related outcomes.
Henslin (2014) argues that sociologist
stress the need use aspects of sociological imagination perspectives in
understanding how personal troubles relate to changes in the society. Through
the use of a sociological perspective, it
is easier to make the involved
personnel’s aware of how social context play a central role such as personal
troubles and ideas behaviors. A large body of evidence, reveal the role of
social factors in shaping health patterns across a broad range of populations,
setting and health indicators (Haider,
et al., 2015). One point that clearly
came out is that fact that medical care also influences health. However, medical care may not be the only
influence on health, and its effect may be very limited. Consequently, it is vital to point out that the
relationship between social factors and health is not a simple one as it may be
thought to be by many individuals. There are active
controversies that surround the topic to date;
the controversies are majorly embedded in the strength of the evidence that supports a casual role of some of the social factors that
exist. The social factors impact on health is
supported by widely observed association that stretches between a wide
range of health indicators as well as the measures of individuals’ typical income, rank in an occupational
hierarchy and social positions amongst others. The association often follows a
stepwise gradient pattern. A comprehensive example includes: racial
discrimination could potentially harm the health of individuals of all
socioeconomic levels (Cooper,
et al., 2016). Subsequently, this is because it acts as a
pervasive stressor in social interactions. Simply put, living in a country with
a strong legacy of racial discrimination may damage health through
psychobiologic pathways.

understanding
racial/ethnic disparities in health using a sociological perspective

Sociology has
contributed immensely to the study of racial/ethnic inequalities in the field
of health in particular. One of the primary argument of sociologists is that
they have made four principal contributions
in regards to the topic in question. At the top of the list is: they have
problematized the biological understanding of the term race, following closely is the second contribution in which
they have emphasized the primacy of social structure as the first-hand
determinants of racial differences especially regarding
diseases. Thirdly, the sociologist has contributed to normal people’s knowledge
or understanding of the numerous ways in which racism manipulate health (Umberson, et al., 2014).
On the other hand, the fourth contribution is they have enhanced normal
people’s understanding of the ways through which migration history, as well as
status, play a central role in manipulating health. The history of racial
differences in health can be traced back to some of the earliest health records
in the history of the United States. African Americans, as compared to whites
across a broad range of health status indicators have been recorded to have
poor health. To comprehensively tackle
the topic in question, it is paramount that sociological insights on racial
disparities in health are tackled
independently. The same applies to the other areas of interest such as gender
and class. The following section will, therefore, seek to answer some of the
questions laid out by a sociologist in
attempts to find effective approaches to
reduce health inequalities as well as improve the health sector in general.

Du Bois’ Research on Race
and Health

Du
Bois is particularly
known for his contribution towards the topic in his classic 1899 book. The book was named the Philadelphia Negro, and just like
its name, it provided a comprehensive analysis of what is commonly referred to
as “the negro problem.” One can quickly point out from his analysis that higher
level of poor health, particularly for the African Americans was an important
factor that could be used to indicate and to back up the claims that there
indeed existed racial inequality. Also, towards the start of the 20th
century, the medical paradigm attributed the observed indifferences to what
they cited as innate biological differences between the two groups, that is the African Americans and the Whites (Umberson, et al., 2014).
In sharp contrast to this argument, Du Bois
pointed out that the racial differences in health as a reflection of the
differences in “social advancements” that existed at that particular time.
Simply put, one of this primary argument was that the disparities that existed
between Whites and Blacks were in totality social attributed. However, the list
was multi-factorial with other causes being conditions like poor heredity, poor
food, unsanitary living conditions,
neglects of infants, among other factors. An example includes consumption, the leading cause of death in Philadelphia
(particularly for Blacks). Subsequently, this pointed out that environmental
factors could be classified as causative
factors behind the health problem. However, Du Bois, in his analysis made it
clear that the health of Blacks varied by the neighborhood
of residence. Reports showed that higher death rates were reported in the Fifth Ward, this was the worst Negro slum in
the city. On the other hand, the Thirtieth Ward reported
fewer death rates and this was credited to their clean streets and good
houses. 

The
current nature of racial differences in health

There
exists numerous evidence that points towards the continued existence of racial differences in health. Unfortunately, there
still exist racial differences regarding
life expectancy at birth for men as well as women from 1950 to present.
Although one of the major achievement is
that life expectancy has increased for the two case study groups over the last half-century, white men still live six years longer than African American men.
Relatively, white women still have a three to four-year advantage over their
counterparts, black women. Research by other sociologists reveals the fact that African Americans, as
well as American Indians, have higher age-specific
death rates. Subsequently, this comparison is
leveled against Whites, and it
stretches across from birth through retirement (England, 2016). Latinos, or commonly
referred to as Hispanic’s leading causes of death include hypertension, diabetes, homicide, and liver cirrhosis among others. The elevated rates of death and
disease for the minority groups as compared to Whites is a reflection of the
earlier onset of illness and poorer survival. In summary of this argument,
despite the fact that African Americans have a lower rate of illness, their prognosis is technically
considered worse than their counterparts, the Whites. A recent conducted
national study can be used to expound more on the point. The result of the national study
indicated that although blacks have lower current and lifetime rates of major
depression, the same cases of depression among these group of people are more
likely to be severe, persistent and untreated.

Du Bois 1899 Report-
Gender and Health

In
his report, black men, as compared to black women had poorer health. Also, the
analysis pointed out that by this time, the gender differences in health were larger for blacks as compared to their white
counterparts. The pattern was extensively
credited to the social condition of the sexes in the respective cities.
Domestic work was the only option available for black women. However, work was readily available for the
women unlike the case for men. Also, the
environment in which women worked in was more conducive to health as compared
to the conditions subjected to the black males. Domestic servants (particularly
black women) had direct access to proper clothing, good housing, and good food.
On the other hand, black males had jobs
that frequently exposed them to adverse weather conditions, ate poorly prepared
food and lived in unsanitary environments (Cockerham, 2014). The same trend and
analysis can be used to analyze contemporary
health patterns systematically. Today, women projected lifespan is longer than that of men. Although
some of the listed factors have changed, unlike the patterns in the past, women live longer due to several related
factors. Male behaviors, most of the time tend to be riskier as compared to
women. Also, men are exposed to several
hazards in their places of work. Other factors include: men experience more
vehicle accidents, they tend to drive more aggressively, on average, men smoke
and drink more alcohol than women, and
hence, these excess risks associated to men tend to work towards disadvantaging
the male longevity potential. Also, it is important to point out that the
manner in which different genders relate to their bodies can be classified as a factor that explains male
and female longevity differences. Women are known to be more health conscious. As a result, they attend to their bodies
more. Also, they seek preventive
healthcare as well as constantly practice
healthier lifestyles as compared to their male counterparts. Men, on the other hand, relate to their bodies with
strength and power hence are exposed to risks from very early stages of life.

The
above arguments in the paper also clearly analyze examples of health problems
that are defined by race, class, and gender. One of the arguments used in the example
that cites the Latino population and the group of health problems that mainly
target the group. Some of the leading health problems for Hispanics include hypertension, diabetes, homicide, and liver cirrhosis. Other health problems are associated with environmental conditions
that the case study people live in.
Examples include, for the Blacks who belong among the lower class in the
society, most of the time, they end up living in environments that are not
suitable for human life. Due to the poor
environmental structures, they end up with high mortality rates regardless of
the age bracket in which among they belong to.
Subsequently, most of the time this is not the case with their White
counterparts. In this case, the use of Blacks as an exclusive example does not necessarily mean that other minority
groups do not suffer the same fate. On the contrary, an analysis of colored people vs.
whites who reside in the U.S. points out that the colored population is more prone to health problems.

Policy intervention and
its implications

The
contribution of sociological research on racial disparities in health has
showcased several important lessons for
the policies that attempt to address social inequalities, particularly in
health. At the top of this list, there are implications for how data that deal with or touch on social inequalities in health should be
reported. It is vital that the traditional technique of reporting the U.S. national health data by race
be re-evaluated. Given the discussed patterns of social inequalities as well as
the ever-growing need to bring more
awareness on the subject to the public and policymakers,
one of my primary recommendation is that data be routinely brought together,
analyzed and hence presented simultaneously on the grounds of race, SES, and gender. Consequently, this will work
towards highlighting the contribution of SES to the health of the nation as
well as to the concept of racial disparity in health. Also, it is vital that
the inclusion of gender be accompanied by
in-depth research that shows hoe exactly biological factors related to sex and
social factors like gender technically relate to each other. Also, it should
determine how they can combine with race as well as SES to revamp new
identities at the convergence of multiple social statuses. Subsequently, this
aims to predict differential access to societal resources.

Due to the fact that health is defined by policies derived from traditional
health policy, the success of an introduced policy
will depend on integrative and collaborative efforts that stretch across
multiple sectors. Most of the time, success will be highly inclined towards
improvements in the SES. The persistence nature of inequalities in health
particularly in the U.S. calls upon policymakers
to confront “the peculiar indifference.”
One general assumption that cuts out is the magnitude of human suffering that
racial disparities in health represent (Babbie, 2015). Therefore, it is paramount that policymakers identify the real barriers to
implementing comprehensive societal initiatives necessary to doing away with of
racial differences in health. More
attention should be inclined towards
framing such efforts in ways that reflect dominant American ideals (Betancourt, et al., 2016).
Also, widely cherished norms that touch
on the equal opportunity, as well as the dignity of the individual, can be harnessed creatively to
build the necessary political support to
improve the general health of all Americans regardless of one’s class, gender
or ethnic affiliation.

 

 

  

 

 

References

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice
of social research. Nelson Education.

Betancourt, J. R., Green, A. R.,
Carrillo, J. E., & Owusu Ananeh-Firempong, I. I. (2016). Defining cultural
competence: a practical framework for addressing racial/ethnic disparities in
health and health care. Public health reports.

Cockerham, W. C. (2014). Medical
sociology. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Cooper, R. S., Kennelly, J. F.,
Durazo-Arvizu, R., Oh, H. J., Kaplan, G., & Lynch, J. (2016). Relationship
between premature mortality and socioeconomic factors in black and white
populations of US metropolitan areas. Public health reports.

England, P. (2016). Sometimes the
social becomes personal: Gender, class, and sexualities. American
Sociological Review, 81(1), 4-28.

Haider, A. H., Schneider, E. B.,
Sriram, N., Dossick, D. S., Scott, V. K., Swoboda, S. M., … & Lipsett, P.
A. (2015). Unconscious race and social class bias among acute care surgical
clinicians and clinical treatment decisions. JAMA surgery, 150(5),
457-464.

Umberson, D., Williams, K., Thomas,
P. A., Liu, H., & Thomeer, M. B. (2014). Race, gender, and chains of
disadvantage: childhood adversity, social relationships, and health. Journal
of Health and Social Behavior, 55(1), 20-38.