A Sociology Essay on Illness and Wellbeing

Evidence Within Perspectives

The food industry has been referred to already.

ATOS Healthcare is the firm under government contract from New Labour to the Coalition that is redefining just about everyone on disabled related benefits as capable of work. This is predominantly a working and underclass targeted activity, and is clearly dealing in social definitions of incapacity for work. People go with medical conditions and expectations, but ATOS has others.

But the best researched example is that around the formation and operation of the National Health Service. It took away the worry of individuals, and they were the poor, but from the off it had social definitions of health built in.

At the beginning in 1948 the UK needed every worker available, including the recently disabled due to war. Men had been killed. The belief was that illness - sociologially defined - could be cleared by a free to use NHS and a workforce would be produced.
Then, rather than clear up illness and reduce in size, the NHS continued to expand and illness grew. Illness grew because what was defined as illness expanded, and an important point that arises from historical examples is that the social definition of illness changes.

ATOS Healthcare is relevant in trying to define illness backwards, and thus reduce the benefits bill that has grown among what has become a non-functioning part of the one-time working class - how is it, for example, that there is more disability in the Welsh valleys long after the coal mines have gone? Have General Practioners who were once used to hand out sick notes unable to carry out the opposite social function? What of illness as defined as non-functioning in the workforce?

Other relevant evidence is the Black Report of 1980 (Socialist Wealth Association, 2013) with more impact internationally than at home. The main cause of illhealth was economic inequality.

Urban geography is relevant too: walk half a mile and life expectancy in some cities falls rapidly. Careful though about evidence that might take the essay off topic.

So the evidence is framed by the perspectives - interweave evidence with perspectives so that the evidence does not over-dominate.

There is finally the question of clarity...


Adrian Worsfold