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HSC CM7: Sociological Perspectives in Health and Social Care

Level: Level 3 Diploma

1.1. Summarise the sociological approach to the study of human behaviour.

The sociological approach to studying human behaviour is based on the belief that our behaviour is determined by our social environment. Our social environment includes the family, friends, neighbours and co-workers with whom we interact daily. This approach suggests that our behaviour is shaped by the expectations and norms of these social groups.

Social cohesion is the degree to which members of a society are attracted to each other and feel they belong together. The concept of social cohesion is vital for understanding social order within societies. A strong sense of social cohesion can help to preserve order during periods of social change or upheaval. It can also promote positive social relations, foster a sense of community, and provide a sense of security. Examples of social cohesion include family bonds, friendships, and community ties.

Culture and subculture are an approach to studying human behaviour that looks at how people interact with each other and how they share common values and beliefs. It helps to explain how people from different backgrounds can come to understand and respect each other. It also helps to identify areas of tension and potential conflict.

A social institution is a system of organised beliefs and rules that establish rights, duties, and responsibilities within a culture. Institutions can be organised around roles like family, government, or religion, or they can be organised around activities like education, marriage, or child-rearing. It defines our lives and gives us a sense of order and stability.

Most people in the United Kingdom live in nuclear families, composed of a mother, a father, and their children. The nuclear family is the primary social institution in our society, and it is the most basic unit of socialisation. The family is responsible for teaching children the fundamental values and beliefs of our culture and providing them with a sense of identity. On the other hand, the education system provides us with the skills and knowledge we need to function in our society.

The government is an essential social institution that provides us with a system of laws and regulations that help to maintain order and stability. They also provide us with services we could not get from any other source, like national defence, law enforcement, and education.

The economy plays a vital role in our lives because it is the system through which we produce, distribute, and consume goods and services. The economy as a social institution is what provides us with the resources we need to live and prosper.

Religion is a social institution that provides us with a system of beliefs and values that gives our lives meaning and purpose. Religion also gives us a sense of community and belonging.

Norms are prescriptive rule that dictates how people ought to behave in a given social context. Norms can be descriptive (stating how people behave) or prescriptive (stating how people ought to behave). Values, on the other hand, are ideas or beliefs that people hold about what is good, right, or desirable.

There are different types of norms, but one of the most common is social norms, which dictate how people ought to behave in a given social context. For example, it is a social norm in many cultures for people to shake hands when they meet someone new.

Values are ideas or beliefs people hold about what is good, proper, or desirable. For example, some people might believe that honesty is a fundamental value, while others might believe that ambition is a more important value.

1.2.Describe sociological perspectives.

Sociological perspectives are ways of looking at the social world. They are theories that help to explain how society works. The five main sociological perspectives are functionalism, feminism, Marxism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism.

Functionalism: is a sociological perspective that sees society as a complex system of interrelated parts that work together to maintain stability and order. In the context of health and social care, functionalism would focus on the role that health and social care institutions play in society and how they work to promote the health and well-being of individuals.

Marxism: is a social, political, and economic theory originated by Karl Marx, focusing on the struggle between capitalists and the working class. According to Marx, the capitalists are the ruling class who own the means of production, while the working class are the exploited who sell their labour power to the capitalists. The Marxist theory of class conflict argues that health and social care are determined by the economic structure of society and that the capitalist system is responsible for the unequal distribution of resources. Marxists believe that the health care system is a tool of the ruling class to maintain their power and control over the working class.

Feminism: This theory believes that women are oppressed by men. They argue that women have been discriminated against in education, employment, and wages. Feminism is a social and political movement that advocates for the rights and equality of women. Feminism strives to improve the quality of care and services for women, as well as to increase access to care and services for women who are underserved or face barriers to care. Additionally, feminism seeks to address the unique health needs of women, including reproductive health and mental health.

Conflict theory: This theory looks at society as a struggle between different groups. It examines how different groups compete for resources. It also looks at how other groups try to maintain or change their power in society. With health and social care, conflict theory would suggest a fundamental conflict between those who have access to quality health care and those who do not. This conflict is the source of social inequality and is what drives social change.

Symbolic interactionism: This is a social interaction theory. This means that it looks at how people interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. It focuses on the meanings that people attach to things and how these meanings shape their interactions. Symbolic interactionism has been used to explain several different social phenomena. In health and social care, symbolic interactionism focuses on how individuals interact with and make meaning of the health and social care institutions they encounter.

1.3. Describe in relation to health and social care:

Social Realism

Social realism is a type of artistic expression that depicts contemporary social issues and events. In the context of health and social care, social realism can be used to raise awareness of the many challenges our society faces regarding providing care for those who are ill or have disabilities.

Through the use of art, social realism can help to shine a light on the various inequalities that exist within our healthcare system. It can also help to prompt discussions about the best way to allocate resources so everyone can access the care they need. It can be a powerful tool for change, and its impact can be seen in the many social movements that have been started in response to injustices depicted through this type of art.

Social Constructionism

Social constructionism is a sociological theory that suggests that people’s understanding of the world is socially constructed. This means that people’s beliefs and values are shaped by their interactions with others.

This theory can be applied to health and social care in a number of ways. For example, it can help to explain why people have different views on what is considered to be healthy or unhealthy. It can also help to explain why people may have different ideas about what types of care are necessary or appropriate.

Also, it can be used to challenge traditional views about health and social care. It can also be used to promote a more holistic, person-centred approach to care.

Labelling Theory

According to Blaxter et al. (1990), the theory suggests that people are not born deviants but that they become so as a result of the negative labels that are placed upon them by others. In other words, it is society’s reaction to deviance, rather than the deviance itself, that creates deviants. Once an individual is labelled as deviant, they are likely to be treated as such, leading to further deviance.

Considering the theory in regard to health and social care, this theory can be applied to understanding why some people with mental health conditions or disabilities are more likely to experience stigma and discrimination. For example, if someone with a mental health condition is labelled as “crazy” or “dangerous,” they may be more likely to be treated with suspicion and rejection, which can further exacerbate their condition.

Labelling theory can also help to explain why some groups are more likely to experience health inequalities. For instance, if a particular community is labelled as “undeserving” or “lazy,” they may be less likely to receive the same level of care and support as other groups. This can lead to worsened health outcomes and a greater likelihood of developing health problems.

1.4. Describe the biomedical, social and ecological models of health and well-being.

The models of health and well-being are guideposts that can help individuals, families, and communities identify and adopt practices that promote wellness and chronic disease prevention. There are many different models of health and well-being, and each has its own set of features and benefits.

The biomedical model is most popular among health and social care workers. The biomedical model is the same as the Medical Model. The biomedical model of health focuses on physical disease. This concept defines health as the absence of symptoms and diseases; germs, viruses, and cellular or physiological abnormalities cause disease. This paradigm doesn’t believe that mental or emotional factors create illness. Patients aren’t accountable for their condition, but rather, they are victims. Physical and biological therapy is given (only on the aspect of the physical human body). This involves surgical or drug-based pathogen removal. This approach is the only one that heavily relies on technology and machines; the physician has all the requisite expertise to treat the patient, and they expect people to just comply with therapy. The medical model works for severe illnesses. Quick-fix method, and It rapidly relieves symptoms. There are some limitations in this model, such as:

  • Regarding the body as a machine. No “mind” is mentioned.
  • The environment isn’t considered. It doesn’t address sickness recovery.
  • It’s not a cure-all.
  • This design emphasises cost.
  • High hospital expenditures might strain patients’ finances.
  • Access depends on income.

Social models of health identify our health as being manipulated by a vast range of factors: interpersonal, organisational, individual, environmental, political, social and economic factors. The social model of health motivates us to have a deeper comprehension of health rather than concentrating on anatomy, biology and psychology to know that health and what makes people healthy can only be fully understood by discovering the countless interactions and impacts that materialise from the elaborations of human encounter and the many correlations of the body, society and mind. Many indications are that people who live in relegated societies with low economy have poorer health and die young than those living in higher economy societies. Health is surprisingly sensitive to the social environment. Hence it is a compound issue that needs to be treated at different levels.

The ecological model of health and well-being suggests that many factors contribute to an individual’s health and well-being. These factors can be divided into four categories: individual, interpersonal, community, and societal. Individual factors include things like genetics, health behaviours, and coping skills. Interpersonal factors include things like social support and relationships. Community factors include things like the built environment and access to resources. Societal factors include race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and political factors.

2.1. Explain the social classes recognised in own Home Nation.

The United Kingdom is a country with a long history of social class. The term “social class” refers to the socio-economic distinction between different groups of people in society.

The UK has a history of three main social classes: the upper class, the middle class, and the working class. The upper class consisted of the nobility and the landed gentry. The middle class consists of professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and businesspeople. The lower class consists of manual labourers, such as factory workers and farmers. In recent years, the UK has experienced a decline in the importance of social class. This is due to several factors, including the increase in wealth of the middle class and the drop in the traditional working class. Below are the social classes in the UK:

The upper social classes: They are typically considered to be those who are born into wealth or who have managed to accumulate considerable wealth throughout their lives. This includes a small number of families who have held onto their wealth for generations, as well as those who have made their fortunes more recently.

Members of the upper classes are well-educated and have a high standard of living. They often occupy positions of power and influence, and their wealth gives them a great deal of privilege. They are often seen as selfish and self-interested, and their privilege is often seen as a barrier to social progress.

The middle social classes: These are professional and managerial workers. They are sometimes referred to as the “professional middle class”. They have a higher level of education and earn a higher income than the working class. They are more likely to hold white-collar jobs. They are generally more politically conservative than the working class.

The lower social classes are made up of those who are below the poverty line, as well as those who are unemployed or underemployed. This group is often invisible in society, as they lack the financial means to participate in mainstream culture. Additionally, the lower classes are often marginalised and excluded from decision-making processes. This can create a vicious cycle, as their voices are not heard, and their needs are not addressed, leading to further marginalisation.

2.2. Explain patterns of health across social classes

There are often patterns of health across social classes where those with lower socioeconomic status have worse health outcomes. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as:


Age is a significant factor in determining health outcomes. For instance, older people are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. They are also more likely to experience mental health problems and have frailty and cognitive decline.


There are many ways in which gender influences health patterns across social classes. Women are more likely to experience poverty and poor health than men. This is due to several factors, including that women are more likely to be paid less than men and are more likely to be in part-time or low-paid work. They are also more likely to be single parents and to have caring responsibilities for children or other family members. This means that they have less time and money to invest in their own health.

Another way in which gender influences patterns of health is that women are more likely to experience certain health conditions than men. For example, women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and to experience domestic violence. They are also more likely to have certain chronic health conditions, such as arthritis and osteoporosis.


There is a social gradient in health, with poorer people and those from disadvantaged groups generally have worse health than those from affluent backgrounds. Ethnicity is a significant factor in this, with ethnic minorities generally faring worse than the white majority regarding health outcomes.

Disadvantages and poor living conditions are linked with worse health, and this is further compounded for ethnic minorities, who often face additional barriers such as discrimination. Thankfully, there is increasing recognition of these inequalities, and efforts are being made to address them, but there is still a long way to go.

Culture and Health

Culture can influence health by impacting behaviours and beliefs about health. For example, some cultures may value traditional healing practices over modern medicine. This can lead to lower immunisation rates and higher rates of infectious diseases. Social class can also influence health by affecting access to resources like healthcare, healthy food, and safe housing. Low-income individuals are more likely to experience poor health due to these disparities.

Area of Residence

Area of residence plays a significant role in influencing health patterns across social classes. Individuals living in poverty-stricken areas are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes when compared to those residing in more affluent neighbourhoods. This is due to some factors, including environmental and social determinants of health. Poor housing conditions, lack of access to healthcare, and exposure to crime and violence are some examples of how living in a disadvantaged area can negatively affect health.

2.3. Explain how demographic data is used in planning health and social care services.

Demographic data is a type of data that describes the characteristics of a population. This can include information on age, gender, income, ethnicity, education, and more. This data can be used to better understand a target market or to make decisions about things like marketing and product development. There are various ways to collect and analyse demographic data in health and social care settings. For example, researchers may collect data on the age, gender, race/ethnicity, and income of patients in a particular hospital or clinic. This data can be used to assess whether there are disparities in care based on these factors. Additionally, demographic data can be used to understand patterns of disease and health among different groups of people. For instance, data on the age and gender of people with a particular disease can help researchers to identify risk factors and develop prevention strategies.

In England, demographic data used in planning health and social care are collected by Public Health England, Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Office for National Statistics. The latter collects data from national surveys, such as the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which follows the health and well-being of a representative sample of households in the UK. The UK Household Longitudinal Study has been used to investigate a range of health and social care outcomes, including mental health and wellbeing, carers, and social care services.

There are many different types of demographic data which can be used to help inform health and social care provision. This data can include age, sex, ethnicity, occupation, marital status, education level, and income. This data can be used to help identify trends and patterns in health and social care needs and to target specific population groups for interventions and services.

Population size and growth data can be used to understand the potential demand for health and social care services in the future. Age structure data can target specific health and social care interventions at particular age groups. Sex ratio data can be used to understand the potential demand for gender-specific services. When planning health and social care services, it is essential to consider the demographics of the population that will be served. Fertility and mortality rates can be used to understand the potential demand for services relating to pregnancy and childbirth, as well as end-of-life care.

Understanding the use of more than one type of demographic data is essential for the effective planning and delivery of health and social care services. It can help to ensure that resources are targeted at the areas of greatest need and that services can meet the population’s demand in the future.

Demographic data can be used to identify health disparities and areas of need. It can also be used to target health promotion and disease prevention efforts. For example, if the data shows that a particular group is at increased risk for a specific condition, tailored education and outreach programs can be developed for that group.

In addition, demographic data can be used to assess the demand for services and to plan for future needs. For example, if the data shows that the population is ageing, long-term care services will need to be expanded. Demographic data is a valuable tool for planning health and social care services. It can help to identify areas of need, design targeted interventions, and assess future demand.

2.4. Explain sociological explanations for the patterning of mortality and morbidity rates in the demographic groups:


There are some sociological explanations for the patterning of mortality and morbidity rates in different demographic groups. One explanation is that women are more likely to seek medical help and follow medical advice than men. This means that they are more likely to be diagnosed and treated for health problems, and as a result, their mortality and morbidity rates are lower.

Women tend to have healthier lifestyles than men. They are more likely to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and avoid risky behaviours like smoking and drinking. This also contributes to lower mortality and morbidity rates among women.

Finally, sociological explanations also suggest that women are more likely to have social support networks than men. This means they are more likely to have someone to turn to for help and support when they are sick or facing health problems. This can make a big difference in terms of recovery and survival rates.


One of the most critical sociological explanations for the patterning of mortality and morbidity rates in different demographic groups is age. Age is a major factor in determining both one’s risk of developing a health condition and also the severity of that condition if it does develop. For example, older age groups are more likely to develop chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes and to experience more severe symptoms from these conditions.

Age is also a significant factor in determining mortality rates. Generally, mortality rates are highest among the very young and the very old, with infants and the elderly particularly vulnerable. This is due to both the increased likelihood of developing health problems at these ages and also the reduced ability of the body to fight off or recover from illness or injury.


Ethnicity is a sociological explanation for the patterning of mortality and morbidity rates in demographic groups. It reflects the differential exposure and vulnerability of different social groups to the risk factors for specific diseases. The concept of ethnicity is complex and multi-dimensional and includes both cultural and biological factors.

Different social groups have different levels of exposure to risk factors for specific diseases. For example, groups with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to live in environments with higher levels of pollution, which can increase the risk for respiratory diseases. Groups with higher socioeconomic status are more likely to have access to healthcare and to live in healthier environments.

Different social groups also have different levels of vulnerability to specific diseases. This includes both genetic and physiological factors. For example, certain ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing diabetes due to genetic factors. In addition, social factors such as stress can impact the physiological response to disease, and groups that experience more social stressors (such as discrimination) may have a higher risk of developing diseases.

Area of residence

Those who live in deprived areas are more likely to experience higher rates of mortality and morbidity than those who live in more affluent areas. This is due to a number of factors, including poor housing, lack of access to healthcare, and poverty. Deprived areas are also more likely to have higher crime levels, leading to violence and early death. Another sociological explanation for the patterning of mortality and morbidity rates is social class. Those in lower social classes are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes than those in higher social classes. This is due to a number of factors, including income inequality, lack of access to healthcare, and poor housing.


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