Policies And Markets

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Policies And Markets

Policies And Markets


Sociology begins with individuals' experiences in order to explore the collective themes and patterns of human behaviour that shape our society and the distribution of health within it (Willis, 1993). This essay will describe the "sociological imagination" and then apply the concepts of the sociological enterprise to Aboriginal health and illness. The discussion will include how a sociological perspective contributes to understanding social exclusion and its affects on aboriginal mental illness.


The "sociological imagination" asserts that people do not exist in isolation but within a larger social network (Willis, 1993). Sociology begins with individuals' experiences in order to explore collective themes and patterns of behaviour that shape our society (Willis, 1993) and the distribution of health within it. This facilitates a connection to be made between "private troubles" and "public issues" (Mills 1959 cited in Germov, 2002) and further enables health problems to be viewed as social issues (Germov, 2002).

Evan Willis (1999 as cited in Germov, 2002) suggests that understanding the interrelated cultural, historical, structural and critical factors is the key to the sociological pursuit. A historical and cultural awareness involves examining how the past and culture impact upon a current health situation. Considering the structural factors entails understanding how the organisation and institutions of society and health influence peoples lives (Germov, 2002). By examining how these factors influence individuals and their behaviour, we are able to better understand the social determinants and distribution of health and apply a critical awareness in order to improve upon the society in which we live (Lupton and Najman, 1995).

From a historical perspective, the effects of colonisation and the subsequent depopulation, dispossession and degeneration of traditional Indigenous societies is fundamental to understanding the adverse health status of Aboriginals in Australia today (Davis and George, 1993). Dispossession and the subsequent marginalisation and exclusion of the aboriginal population from precious resources has resulted in reliance on social welfare benefits and relegated the majority of the Indigenous population to the lower socio-economic brackets of society (Short et al., 1995). Lack of income has resulted in poor education and relatively few aboriginal people have entered into government or medical professions, rendering the aboriginal population relatively powerless to directly influence policies and health service delivery (Davis and George, 1993).

Consequently, the inequality of aboriginal health compared to that of the majority of Australians is predominantly located within and determined by the political and economic structures and institutions of the dominant Anglo-Australian society, from which the aboriginal population have been excluded (Saggers and Gray, 1991).

In Australian society the dominant cultural model of health is the biomedical model (Davis and George, 1993), indicative of this fact is 94.4% of expenditure in the health care arena is spent on services, procedures and research associated with bioscience (Sax, 1990). Based on Anglo-Australian cultural beliefs and espoused by the power of government and the medical profession, biomedicine is concerned with the scientific labelling of disorders and disease of the human body (Lupton and Najman, ...
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