Socio-economic class or socio-economic status (SES) may refer to mixture of various factors such as poverty, occupation and environment. It is a way of measuring the standard and quality of life of individuals and families in society using social and economic factors that affect health and wellbeing ( Giddens and Sutton, 2013). Cockerham (2007 p75) argues: ‘Social class or socioeconomic status (SES) is the strongest predictor of health, disease causation and longevity in medical sociology.’ Research in the 1990s, (Drever and Whitehead, 1997) found out that people in higher SES are generally healthier, and live longer than those in lower SES.
The biomedical model of health has been criticised because it fails to include the psychological and social causes relating to an individual’s medical illness or health, looking only at the biological causes (Giddens and Sutton, 2013). Therefore, sociologists being aware of the impacts of social structure and lifestyle on health have put in various efforts to place the study of ‘the social’ at the core of health and healthcare examination.
The essay will be looking at , poverty, employment and unemployment, poor diets as determinants of health in this context amongst other factors such as housing, mental health, social support network, education, culture, individual behaviours, genetics, gender because they have the best documented evidence on research in health inequalities in Britain available in the Black Report (DHSS 1980; Townsend, Davidson and Whitehead, 1992), Acheson Report (Acheson 1998), and FairSociety, HealthyLives Report, and other academic sources.
Employment and unemployment and its effects on health
People out of employment have poor health as compared to those in employment (Morris, Cook and Shaper, 1994). This is can however be related to physical and mental health issues (Heller et al., 1996). Meltzer et al., (1995) argues that the unemployed and unskilled have more mentally unstable symptoms compared to those in employment. Also, the fear of being unemployed and job insecurity has a disadvantageous effect on health (Bartley et al., 1996).
When compared, the lifestyles of the unskilled and unemployed vary from those in employment (Moser et al., 1990) in that the unemployed, unskilled (Meltzer et al, 1995) and homeless (Stark et al., 1989) are more engaged into alcoholism, drug addictions. All these have an adverse effects on an individual’s health this has however been raised as a mental health issue (Heller et al, 1996).
Browne and Bottril (1999) did some research on class and health and came out with some findings in relation to unemployment and employment. They found out that;
• Unskilled manual workers usually die most before retirement than professional white- collar workers and those children born by professional white-collar workers tend to have longer life expectancy than someone born in by an unskilled manual worker.
• Individuals in employment live longer...