Explain the cultural significance and cultural construction of health.

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Though "health" as a medical concept is a positive and useful term, social discussions around health are often somewhat more complicated. In a very basic sense, health can simply be understood to mean a person (or system) functioning as it should. Where it becomes murkier is in the relationship between...

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Though "health" as a medical concept is a positive and useful term, social discussions around health are often somewhat more complicated. In a very basic sense, health can simply be understood to mean a person (or system) functioning as it should. Where it becomes murkier is in the relationship between health and other socioeconomic factors.

A lot of things are necessary for perpetual good health: a regular relationship with a primary care provider, preventative dentistry, adequate nutrition, the ability to avoid hazards. If someone lacks the financial resources to pay for care, or to decline hazardous working or living conditions, this can lock them out of "health" as we understand it. This means that in the United States, inequitable health outcomes often correlate to existing economic, social, and demographic inequities to create a constructed economy of health.

This is doubly punitive because we also tend to place a higher social value on good health than bad. This is true in a literal sense—much of society caters to those in good health, forcing those who need accommodations to fight for consideration—but it's also true in a conceptual sense. The discourse around bodies and health has become much more inclusive in recent years, but bodies who conform to the socially constructed mainstream health ideal are still often presented as the "best" ones.

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