Holistic Living By Walter Perry Essay, Research Paper
December 11, 2001
Socioeconomic status, gender, race and lifestyles are the four major sociocultural factors that affect health and illness. Industrialization has affected all four factors in a fashion that has drastically changed the makeup of the whole institution of health care. As a result of these changes in the health care system of the United States, human health in general, has also changed. Some would argue that the industrialization has made leaps in respect to the advancement of technology and modern medicine practice. Yet still others would point out that these advancements do not benefit every one. The author of “Social Problems” discusses the benefits of industrialization on human health, while taking time to highlight the perversion of an institution, such as health care, in the hands of corporate America.
As cities become more populated and industrialized, the first change that takes place is the lifestyle of the society. Lifestyles varying from vegetarianism and abstinence to liberal sex and binge drinking, all play a part in an industrialized nation. Gender has become less stigmatized by societal norms since women joined the work force. As a result, women that work outside of the home, bring about a new function for the health care providers. Moms can no longer nurse and doctor their families back to health in view of the fact that she has to put in long hours at work. Therefore one can see how lifestyles are altered by the impact of industrialization.
While gigantic corporations grow, the need for man labor increases. Many barriers have fallen, allowing women to overcome stagnant positions in society, and increase in power. As a result the book states, “Women appear to be healthier than men, especially if we consider longevity as the key measure of health (124).” One of the reasons being the fact that women are more ready to take care of symptoms that are questionable, including those having to do with mental illness. In contrast men tend to stick to traditional roles, which result in more stressful and dangerous careers. In short the impact that industrialization has on gender is obvious, especially in the discussion of health.
The third element that describes the impact of the industrialization on human health is the socioeconomic status of the individual. Sullivan states,
Those who are lower on such things as income, educational achievements, and occupational status generally have substantially higher disease rates and death rates than do their more affluent counterparts (122).
This statement is true considering that an individuals income determines the quality of health care that is received. Although its not necessarily so, ones education determines how one takes interest in personal health and the health of others. For example the ozone problem becomes an issue that educated people understand and want to find a solution for.
Finally is race, the last factor that has been affected by industrialization and which also has an impact on health. Most studies in this field have only compared blacks and whites. The conclusion has been that even though some blacks have the opportunity to receive better health care, most do not. This is because race is associated with socioeconomic status, and blacks are very low in the scale when compared to whites. (125)
Industrialization not only had its impact on socioeconomic status, race, gender and lifestyles; it also had colossal influence on the health care system. For instance, in previous centuries, hospitals were nonprofit facilities whose primary focus was patient care. “By the 1980’s, in the Wall Street world of medicine, patients were known as ‘revenue bodies,’ hospitals were ‘profit centers,’ and the goal was to ‘maximize the return on each admission (135).” In light that the health care is seen largely as a highly profitable business it is no wonder that health is treated as a privilege for those who can afford it.
One must also keep in that in an industrialized capitalist economy there is also more opportunity for perversion of the system. Nonprofit hospitals are being bought out or run out of business by large national corporations that provide health care services. A small body of leaders, whose primary motive is to increase profits, is how the majority of the decisions are made in these facilities. The best interest of the patient’s health is very small on the scale of priorities to a national corporation. Although it would not be fair to say that all health corporations do not take health quality into consideration, one must not be naive to the real motivation of these national corporations.
In short, industrialization has made an impression of the health of Americans. The lifestyles were altered and , socioeconomic opportunities expanded for minorities and women. As a result people living in industrialized environments have longer life expectancy rates and lower death rates. Yet industrialization has taken over even in the medical realm, which brings about some questions. Questions that have to do with the integrity of the institution that is run, not to benefit the sick, but is run on the basis to make a dollar. This type of conflict hurts those who do not have the money to get heath care from these providers. It also hurts those who can afford it, yet are manipulated by the system. The insurance and hospital scams that are processed in order to gain more of a profit also hurt the credibility and trust in the health care institution. As one discusses the benefits of industrialization on human health, the time should be taken to highlight the perversion of having an institution, such as health care, in the hands of corporate America.
Now that the problems of an industrialized nation are evident, the question at hand is what solutions are available to Americans who want to maintain Physical fitness and health?