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Health as situational adaption: A social psychological perspective

Angelo A. Alonzo

Social Science & Medicine, 1985, vol. 21, issue 12, pages 1341-1344

Abstract: A model to encompass the complex relationship between the individual and his social, physical and cultural environments and to provide strategies for intervention has not yet been developed. While professionals acknowledge the importance of an ecological and holistic conception of man-environment interaction, various biases and ideologies prevent them from adequately taking this interaction into account. To overcome this inadequacy this paper explores a relational conception of health, the central importance of the socially defined situation for health and adaption, the limits of medicine and holism in intervening in problems of adaption and suggests a situational approach to the study of health and adaption. By stressing the socially defined situation and the social psychological actor it may be possible to sensitize the actor to socially situated man-environment transactions, to preserve the actor's confidence in his own health, to encourage individual responsibility for maintaining health and to promote an awareness of signs and symptoms that require medical attention. Within a larger framework, however, it is not effective to intervene in the individual's social situations if we do not also attempt to alter the macro economic, political, cultural and structural elements in society which encourage, produce and support unhealthy environmental conditions.

Date: 1985
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