Unit 8 The Sociological Context HSC

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The aim of this unit is to help learners gain understanding of sociological concepts and their application to policy making and care practice in health and social care. 

Unit abstract

This unit enables learners to gain understanding of the nature of contemporary society. Learners will explore how society is structured in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, social class, family and households. Learners will also consider the impact of marriage, partnership formation and relationship breakdown on health and wellbeing. The focus of the unit will be to consider the impact that social inequalities in society have on policy-making and care practice in health and social care. Learners will examine the factors that contribute to health and wellbeing from sociological perspectives and will explore health inequalities. Learners will develop an understanding of how social factors influence the provision and delivery of health and social care services and their role as a key determinant affecting health and social care outcomes for individuals. 

Learning outcomes

1 Understand the contemporary nature of society

  •  Political and economic constructs: systems of stratification (age, gender, ethnicity, social class, households, partnership formation and relationship breakdown)
  • Social constructs: family and households; community; education; work; unemployment; leisure Societal change: demographic (population profiles, national, regional); economic (wealth, technological development)
  • Cultural values and beliefs: related to diversity; ethnicity; religious belief; distribution of income and wealth
  • Implications for health and social care sector: services; resources; access 

2 Understand how social inequalities influence the life chances and health status of individuals 

  • Sources of data: the census; birth and death registrations; population estimates and projections; population locations
  • Sociological perspectives: conflict and consensus theories; social construct theories
  • Inequalities in health and social care: biological factors (heredity); individual needs; access issues; health and social care outcomes
  • Health status: holistic consideration of health and wellbeing status; physical eg immune status; mental health; emotional health; social health eg friendship networks, mobility
  • Life chances: education opportunity; housing; social networks; employment; affluence; lifestyle choices; risks eg accidents, deviant behaviours; access to support 

3 Understand sociological concepts and theory in relation to contemporary social and health issues 

  • Sociological definitions of: health; illness; disability
  • Social issues and problems in contemporary society: population change eg proportion of working age, population mobility, pensions, changing care needs and expectations; work eg stress, changing nature of work, unemployment, distribution of wealth; technological advances eg in therapies, assistive technologies, expectations; lifestyle choices eg leisure, activity, substance misuse; the role of politics, media and public opinion in shaping the health and social care agenda
  • Social inequalities in contemporary society: life chances; physical environment eg housing, transport, urban versus rural, employment, pollution; choice and access to services eg education, social care, health care; resources eg income, benefits, time; the ability of services to compensate for biological factors influencing health and wellbeing 


  • McLeod, S. (2016). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved 09 28, 2016, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
  • Nilsson, L., Eriksén, S. & Borg, C. 2016, "The influence of social challenges when implementing information systems in a Swedish health?care organisation", Journal of Nursing Management, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 789-797.

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