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World Health Organization Definition of Health


            According to World Health Organization 2006, health is defined as a state of full well-being: emotionally, mentally, and physically. This definition is mainly focused on the importance of living a life that is free from disease, and is cognizant of the fact that for one to have a healthy body; then there must be a healthy environment and also a stable mind. This essay will be providing critical analysis of the three class readings, which include the one by Germov Second Opinion: an introduction to the Health Sociology. According to Germov 2014,   Medicine refers to the social institution that is in charge of diagnosing, treating, and preventing the disease. Germov 2014, P.5, posits that social genesis of health and disease that may be viewed when one compares the duration one is expected tom live in different jurisdictions. When the developed countries and the developing ones are compared, it shows that life expectancy rate in some countries is quite low as compared to the developed countries like; Japan, Sweden, Germany, and even Australia. This paper will be discussing the health sociology, which focuses on the social patterns of health and illness. For instance, the disparity in the health status that is there between men and women, the wealthy and the poor, or the indigenous and the non-indigenous people; and it seeks a social instead of biological and also psychological explanations. The health sociology offers a second view to the conformist medicinal thinking of diseases that is generated from the biological and also psychological explanations; through exploration of the social beginnings of health and illness. Baisch 2009 points out that lifestyle and the working environment that essentially shows the reason why some category of individuals become more sick and would pass on earlier than other people.

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The Socialogical Health

            In the view of Germov (2014, P.7), sociological imagination refers to the worth of thinking that appears quite radically to assure of considerate of an inmate truthfulness of people’s own-self. It has also been reported that most of the individual inconveniences cannot be imagined cannot be imagined only as mere inconveniences. The social beginnings can be seen clearly if the life expectancy rates of different countries across the world are compared. As it is commonly known, the life expectancy figures in the least developed countries are lower than those countries that are properly developed. For instance, the standard life expectation at birth in the countries that are not well developed is projected to be around 20 years lower than those developed countries like Australia; whose life expectancy is 82 years (AIHAW 2014). Australia has got one of the highest life expectancy in the world and as a matter of facts only second to Japan. It is not because of any genetic development of the Australian people; however, it is due to an indication of their distinct lifestyle and working environment. There are might be only two reasons why Australia has got the highest life expectancy: first, the life expectancy can be altered inside a small period of time, and as a matter of facts it changed for most countries in the world during the 20th century (World Health Organization, 2006). A case in point, the duration for people to live in Australia has gone up by over25 years as from the year1910, which is a short period of time for any improvement of genes to take place within a given population. Secondly, the data that have been put together for the last many years of immigration indicates that health condition of people who have come from other countries would basically mirror that of the host country within a given period of time, instead of that of their country of origin. Baisch 2009, posits that the more the migrants live in a given country where they have been hosted, the more their lives would mirror that of the host country.  

            Even though the average the average number of years for living in Australia is relatively towering, it is quite significant to differentiate between various social groups that are living in Australia. Many health pundits have pointed out that figures of years for living excpectation are simple indicators of the people’s status of health, and generally hide the critical health inequalities that are there among different social groups in the nation. For instance, in Australia, individuals who are in the lowest circle of social and economic have got a lot of diseases that are brought by behaviors like smoking (AIHW 2012). To add on that, the life expectancy for the indigenous people like the Aboriginals nearly twelve years below the average life expectancy rate. As a matter of facts, currently the living expectation of the native Australians mirrors that of the white that were born during the near the beginning of the 20th century (AIHW 2014).  It is also important to remember that the Maori of New Zealand have got also lower life expectancy rate of about 7.3 years below that of the national figures. 

Analysis of Sociological Perspective

            The American renowned sociologist called Charles Wright Mills has provided an insightful analysis of the sociological perspective through the use of an expression known as sociological imagination (Germov 2014, P.7). Mills has described sociological imagination as a quality of mind that appears to be dramatically to promise an understanding of the inmate realities about people, alongside with large social realities. Mills further points out that an essential aspect of one to think in a sociological manner, or better still being able to view the world through the prism of sociological imagination. At an individual level, people may experience personal troubles and they may not be even aware that they share those problems with other people. Baisch 2009 posits that if some problems are common among some category of people, they may possess an ordinary reason and may be dispensed with via a joint operation. Mills has also pointed out that most of the personal troubles may not be solved mostly as troubles, and should be understood based on communal matters. The communal matters may be opened up by connecting them to individual’s problems. Famous Australian professional sociologist called Evan Willis suggested that the sociological thinking is made up of 4 parts that are related: historical factors, cultural factors, critical factors, and structural factors. Sociological analysis is made up of these four aspects to the problems that are applied to the investigation. For instance, the sociological analysis that explains why some manual laborers have got a shorter life expectancy would be examining reasons as to why manual laborers are affecting the health of manual laborers. Some of the reasons that explain why manual laborers have got a short life expectancy include; historical factors that would make it easy for one to understand the dangers of manual workplace dangers. There are also other reasons like cultural factors, structural factors, and even critical factors (Germov 2014, P.8).

            The model of medical discourse is not just about a set of thinking and assumptions, it also presents a cluster of linguistic forms that are both sustained and encapsulated in the discourse; which include power relations and the social discourse (Thompson 2011, P.125). The Medical model is fundamentally personalized in its concentration; it is not concerned with extensive political, economical, and social issues. This basically shows that the issues that are concerned with ageism, bigotry, and/ or poverty; are not fully acknowledged as some of the factors that would add to the deteriorating health, and at the same time a lot of money is put in buying some of the hi-tech apparatus. Health has also been described as a state of total physical, social and emotional wellbeing, and not necessarily about the absence a disease or any other kind of infirmity. It has also been further explained that people are not desirable unless they achieve the state physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Therefore it can be concluded that absence of disease on human physical body, but it is also about both intellectual and emotional well-being of people (Thomson 2011, P. 127).

Public Health and Social Medicine

            Being able to recognize the social beginning of health and disease may actually take place before the formal development of sociology as an academic discipline, and this can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century; that was followed with the establishment of social medicine and also public health. During this period, the infectious conditions like cholera, smallpox, typhus, tuberculosis, and/ or diphtheria; used to be the major causes of death because they never had enough cures, or better still medics never had enough understanding of how these conditions were being transmitted. During the 19th century, most professionals and experts like Ridolph Virchow, and Fredricch Engels came up with a clear links between poverty and these infectious diseases (Germov 2014). By the beginning of the 20th century, the idea of public health had become part of the nation building project in Australia. The doctors in Australia and other parts of the world resisted the idea of public health and they viewed the idea as undermining the reasoning behind the need for medical services and lacks scientific approval. Such kind of views became popular considering the fact that during this time the political ideology of laissez-faire was the dominant one. The political philosophy of laissez-faire only supported the minimal intervention by the government in both public and economic affairs. However, resources that have been put in the affairs of public was made due to the fact the infectious diseases never knew the social class boundary. In spite of the social medicine and the success of measures in the public health, the health care was took a total different direction (World Health Organization 2006).

The Model of Biomedical

 Germvo (2014), points out that Louis Pasteur came up with germ theory of disease; which states that illnesses was caused by germs that do affect the organs of a human being body. This mode acted as the foundation of the modern medicine. The other scientist by the name Robert Koch was able to redefine this through the doctrine of a given aetiology. The vital idea was that some micro-organisms can cause diseases by entering into the human body through water, air, food, and insect bites (Thompson 2011, P. 135). This model of mono-causal illness that was later renamed as the biomedical or medical model became the central medical paradigm during the early years of the 20th century. Although the ancient discoveries led to the identification of numerous infectious illnesses, there were limited treatments though. The single earliest applications that assisted in the understanding of the diseases that is infectious, was the hygiene promotion and procedures for sterilization and mostly in the surgical practice. This was done with a view of preventing the illness via transmission of the bacteria. Before the early years of the 20th century, it was almost a norm for the surgeons to operate on the patients without giving much consideration to the hygiene or even better cleaning sterilization of the equipment that  were used during the operation procedure. This resulted in high prevalence of post-operation deaths and other infections. According to Baisch 2009, the idea of biomedical model is based on the argument that each illness has its distinct or specific cause, which physically affects the body the human body in a systematic and a predetermined manner, showing that universal treatment for different patients can only be possible on theory. It entails a mechanical picture of the body that consists of parts that are interrelated parts, like skeleton and the circulatory system. During the entire 20th century, there was an increase in the medical research, training, and practice that mainly focused on several attempts to identify and eliminate some form of illnesses within individuals, and therefore moved away from the perspective of social medicine and it is mainly concerned with the social origins of illnesses. There were quasi-religious ideas about health and illnesses that were dominant before medical science was developed, whereby disease was connected with some sorts of sin, the evil spirits, and penance. The body and soul were treated as a holy entity that was above the power of any human intervention. Therefore, the body as a machine is a representation of a vital turning point, when people started to move away from the religious views of social health.

Social Model of Health

According to Germov 2014, the social model of health, which is sometimes being referred to as a new approach for the public health and it focuses attention on the societal level of health determinants as well as health intervention. These two words are normally being used on the place of the other by some authors, however, they have got different disciplinary origins, and the new public approach arose from the health sciences, and other social models that are driven mostly from the health sociology field. The social model of health has commonly been used as an umbrella term to describe the approaches that mainly focus on the social determinants of health and disease. As Thompson 2011 points out, a community that is healthy is one that has a visible commitment to achieve the wellbeing and the health of families, individuals and different groups of people. It is important to remember that the objective should be sustainable, meaning the community should have the ability to continue conclusively without creating a lot of disturbances or any kind of harm.


            Basically, the health of the entire world and that of people in it can be maintained by creating a dialectic balance between the needs of different people including physical, mental, spiritual, social, economic and political. Those needs can only be fulfilled through the use of sustainable as use of human and environmental resources Germov has indicated in his famous book; Second Opinion: An introduction to Health Soviology:5th edn.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHAW). 2014. Stronger evidence, better decisions, improved health and welfare. Australian Givernment. Retrieved January 9,2018, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/partners/aihw-australian-institute-of-health-and-welfare

Baisch, M.J., 2009. Community health: an evolutionary concept analysis. Journal of advanced nursing, 65(11), pp.2464-2476.

Germov, J. 2014. Imagining health problems as social issues in J Germov (ed), Second opinion: an introduction to health sociology, 5th edition, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, pp. 5-22 .

Thompson, N., 2011. Promoting equality: Working with diversity and difference. Palgrave Macmillan.

World Health Organization, 2006. The world health report 2006: working together for health. World Health Organization.

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