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In what ways is gender significant in the social production of health and illness - Essay Example

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Gender: Foundation of Inequality in Health Name of the of the University Introduction Physical health is one of the most important aspects of human life. Healthy body leads to healthy life. However, physical health depends not only on healthy functioning of the body but also on mind and spirit of human being…
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In what ways is gender significant in the social production of health and illness
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In what ways is gender significant in the social production of health and illness

Health, being one of the major aspects of life, is also affected by the social structure. The unfortunate thing is that the gender differences, which are observed in the society, are also observed in the health scenario. Hence, gender plays a significant role in the social production of health and illness. According to Harding (1986), even though health and illness can be “explained or interpreted within the assumptions of modern science,” there are many aspects of health and illness that are “hidden from the consciousness of science” (Lorber & Moore, 2002, p. 1). This is because social and historical particularities like human emotions, political values, individual and collective unconscious, social system, gender roles etc., tend to influence the health and illness in human beings (Lorber & Moore, 2002, p. 1). According to Harding (1986), the scientific and the social worlds are strongly related to each other and shape each other (Lorber & Moore, 2002, p. 1). The gender differences, which are observed in society due to patriarchal and male dominated systems, are also observed in the way men and women are treated in the field of health. Hence, immediate steps are needed to be taken to change the gender bias in social production of health and illness, as only equality in treatment of males and females will lead to development of a healthy society. Gender Inequalities Gender inequality is one of the major aspects of social system. Suppression of female voice and their rights has been in practice since ancient times. Hence, it is not surprising to find the same trend in health field also. Since the early 1970’s, the major area of sociological researches has been dedicated to studying the gender inequalities in health (Annandale & Hunt, 2000, p.1). Gender inequalities led the feminist movements to search for reason behind the differences in male and female morbidity and mortality, which were observed in society (Annandale & Hunt, 2000, p.1). Social circumstances are known to influence women’s health in many ways. Feminists have attempted to challenge the detrimental effects of patriarchal system on women’s health by probing into the relationship between variations in women’s social circumstances and their health (Annandale & Hunt, 2000, p.1). According to study by Annandale (1998), it was revealed that if women were given access to the social roles, statuses and facilities which were hitherto considered as domain of male, then their health will experience enhancement and improvement (Annandale & Hunt, 2000, p.1). Unfortunately, women are not treated equally. The vital aspect of female position in social health scenario, which was revealed through the research by feminists, was the essence behind the term ‘gender,’ and how it affected the social production of health and illness. Difference between Sex and Gender By the end of 1970’s, the liberal feminist movement had made its agenda to conduct research on gender differences in health, which were the extension of the inequalities that had seeped deep into different aspect of society like “paid and domestic work,” status and income (Annandale & Hunt, 2000, p.1). One of the most essential thing that was considered as the basis for this research was the distinction between sex (biology) and gender (the social) (Annandale & Hunt, 2000, p.1). ‘Sex’ is biology of a person while gender is a social term which is used to describe the sex role that one has to ... Read More
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